LUCY Review

     July 24, 2014


Luc Besson’s new film Lucy often feels like 10% of a movie, despite its very clear ambitions to be some sort of ultimate experience. Which is weird because it nails so many of its objectives.  It’s gorgeously shot.  It’s incredibly kinetic and, even when it’s not in the middle of an action scene, it’s rarely static.  Scarlett Johansson throws everything she has into the role (or, at least, gives the role everything it requires of her).  And yet I had to do everything I could to keep from falling asleep during the film’s turgid first act.

That’s some feat considering the fact that Lucy wastes absolutely no time getting started.  The film hits the ground running when Johansson’s titular character is roped into a bizarre drug deal by a sweaty, shady boyfriend she’s only known for a week.  An American student studying abroad in Taipei, she’s the epitome of a normal person thrust into an impossible circumstance when the deal goes sour and she wakes up with a plastic bag of blue powder inside her abdomen.  That powder happens to be a synthetic drug modeled upon a naturally occurring chemical compound that mothers pass along to their fetuses in order to kickstart their development.  And when that bag starts to leak, it gives Lucy access to more than 10% of her brain.  When that happens, she’s well on her way to becoming a god that can control… pretty much everything.  Which provides little in the way of conflict.  When your protagonist is all seeing, all knowing and all powerful there’s never really a moment when all the chips are down.


While all of this is going on, Morgan Freeman’s character is giving a lecture to a group of students in Paris that just happens to dovetail thematically into the expansion Lucy’s brain is undergoing.  I applaud that Besson (who also wrote the film) simply doesn’t care that his central scientific conceit (humans only use 10% of their brain) is considered an across-the-board falsehood by the scientific community.  He insists that Freeman deliver this nonsense seriously.  Like most of the documentaries he’s involved with, Freeman basically serves as a narrator for the first half of the film, explaining each development in Lucy’s brain as she experiences it.  For a while I was excited by the meta aspect of him basically narrating the entire movie, but eventually he’s brought into the main story through an unnecessary contrivance.

It doesn’t help that Lucy is flat-out dumb.  This film is basically Crank doing a cover song of 2001.  And while I’m glad the movie is aware of its role as base entertainment (it seems to know that even its ethereal National Geographic cutaways are utterly meaningless), I wish it was more successful in its brazen attempts to thrill.  But we’ve seen everything here before, both in the film’s trailer and in other (better) movies.  The film has almost every bit of eye candy imaginable, but fails utterly to make you care about what’s happening.  Attractive but not intelligent and good looking with nothing to say – Lucy is the high school crush that grew up to be rather boring indeed.

Rating: C


  • Bob

    Cant wait to see it tomorrow. I love you ScarJo.

  • Kyle Chandler

    Girlfriend wants to see it, but I feel like I’m going to have to turn off 90% of my brain to enjoy it.

    • 10

      your brain is already 90% turned off

      • Kyle Chandler

        That makes sense, I was only feeling 10% insulted.

  • fechu1922

    they bitch about not being scientifically accurate. It’s popcorn movie dude. If you like science go to college or read a book.

    • jack

      There’s scientifically accurate and then there’s total falsehoods. You can at least pull that Iron Man 3 bs about the small portion of the brain being unused so we’re destined for an upgrade. It’s lazy writing.

  • GrimReaper07

    lol this is the shortest Collider review I’ve ever seen.

    • Neven

      Matt’s in San Diego covering Comic-Con, so Evan filled in for him, good enough for me. Although the review is shorter in size, I feel it is spot-on.

    • brNdon

      This is how a review should look. Matt just likes the look of his own words and tries to sound overly smart.

      • GrimReaper07

        Even if you disagree with his taste, Matt’s reviews are very well written.

  • DNAsplitter

    I’m just glad Hollywood has finally progressed enough to make a film where a woman uses more than 10% of her brain.

    • MCP

      True that, as it rarely happens in real life! lol…

  • JBug

    Awesome review!

  • herpderp

    Just saw it, its meh

  • BigJimSlade

    I love ScarJo but if it’s half as bad as Besson’s last film with DeNiro I don’t think I’ll ever bother. Sounds like Luc has lost it and the way of the Gilliam. Sad…

  • Sam spade

    Good review Evan, I’ve read collider for at least five years and the whole time I’ve been reading it I’ve only wanted one change, and that’s more Matt Goldberg to stop writing movie reviews, and shoving his pessimistic biased opinions down our throats. I hope that this is a new smart move from collider to have objective reviews of movies.

  • Sam spade


  • wafflehaus

    I’ve seen a bunch of headlines the last few days about “the emergence of the female action hero”. Have these people forgot Point of No Return/La Femme Nikita and the Professional (i’d say Natalie Portman is the lead in that) – both of which were done by Besson. Not to mention Alien? Thankfully Collider is not doing this, but those stories are so lazy. Those came out over 20 years ago and there have been plent of female lead action films since then. C’mon people.