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Did I Love Scarlett Johansson’s “Lucy”?

July 24, 2014


No. No, I did not. Why not?

Because you can’t spell “ludicrous” without L-U-C. As in Luc Besson, the Euro-trashmaster behind such overrated, over-le-top cult faves as The Professional and The Fifth Element. (And, yes, a good film or two, like the original La Femme Nikita.) Besson specializes in kick-ass female heroines and mind-numbingly stupid plots.

Lucy is the apotheosis of Luc-y-ness. Scarlett Johansson—she of the pillowy, pillowy, pillowy lips and the gravelly, Elizabeth Ashley-gargling-Drano voice—emptily ebodies an American expatriate in Paris who’s drafted by her inexplicably scuzzy boyfriend to deliver a briefcase to an Asian crime lord. Somehow this leads to her being turned into a mule for a synthetic drug that allows users to access more than the average 10 percent of their brains. The substance leaks, and she starts mutating into a superpowered avenger (not to be confused with the superpowered avenger, Black Widow, she plays in The Avengers and Iron Man and Captain America and… oh, never mind).

She hooks up with Morgan Freeman as a pioneering brain scientist (didn’t he just go down this road to nowhere with Johnny Depp in Transcendence?), and her exploits are intercut with nature footage of leopards preying on antelopes, rhinos screwing, dinos devouring each other and the first female, an ape-like creature named, you guessed it, Lucy. Besson’s airy-fairy montages play like bad outtakes from Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (and that movie’s in-takes weren’t great either). Call it The Shrub of Life. Oh, and when Freeman starts talking about how dophins use 20 percent of their brains, you may think—nay, wish—that you stumbled into a sneak preview of his upcoming Dolphin Tale 2.

As Lucy’s use of her brain capacity increases, the not-so-special effects look like something an 8th-grader could do on their laptop, and the screen periodically flashes percentages—20, 30, 40%, and so on. That only makes you realize how much of this brain-dead movie is left to endure. After a while, you start to feel a sensation similar to watching a photograph upload from your phone to Facebook. You watch the completion bar slowly, slowly, slowly move near completion, but it never seems to happen fast enough.

When Lucy nears maximum capacity, she foolishly starts to wear an unflattering Bettie Page-like black wig and attains the ability to transport herself to anywhere at any time. She chooses to go all the way back to the past to meet, you guessed it, Lucy. But just as she’s about to be devoured by a dinosaur, she quickly swipes her hand to the left and returns to the present, eliminating the prehistoric era like an eon-spanning iteration of Tinder.

After threatening us with the specter of a sequel, Lucy (the pillowy-pillowy-pillowy-lipped one, not the ape woman) tells us that we were given our brains millions of years ago, and now we finally know what to do with them. Job 1: Don’t waste two hours of your life watching Lucy.

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