It’s just as well that Angelina Jolie dropped out of the lead role for Lucy. Luc Besson’s exquisitely ironic action thriller that takes a leaf from Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop series is better served by Scarlett Johansson’s Junoesque-Nordic build. That leaf Besson turns into a uniquely green one that mixes well-delineated myth (the Norse twilight of the Gods) and hardcore neo-science action (that was started by the Matrix series). Jolie doesn’t have the better physical contrast. Johansson does – and she delivers a very acceptable modern berserker Freya single-handedly eliminating a hoard of Oriental drug dealers while coming to a prophetic end. Long may Valhalla live.
The movie does have that racist element, but heroic violence often thrives on such contrasts. John Wayne made no apologies about doing his part in putting a cert on the Western tough guy being the true enemy of native Indians. Besson took the non-PC subject on for further possibilities of irony and tongue-in-cheek mayhem, if nothing else. If you tend to squeal in pain from any form of racist violence, then this movie is not for you. But you will be missing a lot.
For more realistic material, Besson turned to the Oriental drug scene. The characters portrayed in Lucy do exist, and the drugs of choice there, while not coming to the fantastical levels of highly altered states on the superhuman level, provide the same paranoid physics and psychedelic believability. The synthetic drug in question is known as CPH4. A bag of it is sewed into Lucy’s abdomen because her druggie boyfriend had, without her knowledge, sold her to his boss (a Mr. Jang) as a drug mule. When an Oriental baddie didn’t like the look on her face in the holding room for mules to Europe, Lucy gets kicked in the abdomen and the bag bursts, releasing an insane amount of CPH4 in her bloodstream. Realistically, this would have ended her life (and the film) right there and then – but being the scion of Nordic myth, she takes on an entire spectrum of superpowers that rival all the combined powers of the X-Men troupe.
Ethan Sacks described Lucy’s online debut as having “…the force of a punch to the head”. Its release last July 25 reiterated this with first-weekend box office receipts at $17 plus millions, knocking Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules “…with a flick of her wrist” off the ring. (Being the gentleman that he is, Hercules probably could not deny the lady this favour.) Production company EuropaCorp’s honcho Christophe Lambert noted how Luc Besson went whole hog on the special effects for the blockbuster, and we can greatly appreciate that throughout the film’s duration. (Is Christophe Lambert, we ask sidereally, perhaps the one and only from Montagnard fame?)
The filming of Lucy had seen A-Teams of reviewers and advance men giving Luc Besson no end of artistic pain with what are known in the film industry as dingo attacks. However, the results speak for themselves, and, even if it sort of sneaked into the picture, Lucy has made Luc Besson perhaps the slightly better director when compared to the more obviously anti-PC activist Verhoeven. Morgan Freeman co-stars as Professor Norman, who records it all for the sake of scientific progress.