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Lucy

Year: 2014
Production Co: EuropaCorp/Canal+
Director: Luc Besson
Writer: Luc Besson
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Analeigh Tipton

I've seldom seen a movie that was so different from what it said on the tin – in a bad way. Everything about the movie – from the trailer to the presence of Luc Besson behind the camera – made it seem like another classic action flick in the vein of The Transporter, and a female-driven action flick like The Assassin at that.

I thought I'd see Scarlett Johansson transformed into some super soldier and shoot, fight and blast her way through the ranks of a crime organisation before finally putting one in the head of the fearsome boss with a sardonic quip.

Instead, there's far less action than you expect aside from one or two set pieces, and the 'transformed into a super soldier' idea goes way too far. As Lucy, Scarlett can't just fight or shoot, she becomes a veritable supernatural being who can do everything but travel through time (and then she does that too). Listening to conversations from dozens of metres away? Changing her hair colour with the power of thought? Telekinesis? Turning into millions of nanoparticles? No problem.

She plays a student in Hong Kong who's roped into transporting narcotics for a drug organisation, but after a kick to the stomach the container filled with the substance leaches out into her body. What nobody knows is that it ratchets up the amount of brain power available to her (the old misguided Hollywood idea of 'we only use 10 percent of our brains' like we saw in Limitless).

But for some reason that's never explained, it doesn't only give Lucy super senses and reflexes, it gives her the power to do almost anything she wants, God-like. The only stakes are that when the infusion of the stuff in her brain reaches 100 percent, she'll become some sort of singularity...or something. To be honest the whole concept was so muddy and so badly explained through any exposition I didn't understand what would happen to her.

So it's an action story without very much action, and a story like Transcendence that has no credible explanation about the transcendence. Coincidentally Morgan Freeman's there to play the same role he did in Transcendence and a hundred other movies – the wisened old sage who really understands what's going on and helps the hero as a consequence.

If you really want to find an upside, maybe Lucy can be interpreted as a feminist treatise. For the first time, a woman's power rests solely on her using her (increasingly powerful) brain, not on her ability to look pretty or kick ass. But just like in a million other comic books and movies, having a foxy lead actress who can fight off a room full of male henchmen undermines the whole argument.

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