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Jason Johnson and Joanne Soh
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

Showbiz

Lucy: A Mars vs Venus review

The New Paper | Jason Johnson and Joanne Soh | Friday, Aug 22, 2014

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min Sik, Amr Waked

Director: Luc Besson

The skinny: A foreign student girl named Lucy (Johansson) is forced into being a drug mule, but she develops super powers when the experimental drugs get into her system. She is able to use 100% of her brain, giving her the ability to manipulate time and matter. She goes on a mission to find a brain expert (Freeman) while the drug lord (Choi) chases her down.

Rating: NC16

A Mars look

By Jason Johnson

I do not understand why artists just do not stick to what they are good at.

They always want to explore.

For example, director Luc Besson's Lucy is the sort of thing he excels at - the story of a flashy girl having a fabulous adventure in a funky setting.

See also Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element (1997), Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional (1994) and Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita (1990).

For the past several years, Besson has been wasting his time with the middling animation series Arthur And The Invisibles.

Fortunately, Lucy is good enough to make up for the gap.

Some may say that Lucy does not quite live up to its ambitions, but I say so what?

Just the fact that Besson is trying to shoehorn metaphysics into an action movie is good enough for me. In fact, it is cause for celebration.

Lucy is not just a girl with superpowers like Johansson's Black Widow character in The Avengers.

Lucy is a girl uncovering the secrets of life, the universe and everything.

The scope of the picture is immense.

That said, it also works as just an action flick, which explains how it destroyed Dwayne Johnson's Hercules at the US box office.

For a good while, I have been embarrassed to say that Besson is one of my favourite film-makers.

I'm not embarrassed now.

A Venus look

By Joanne Soh

When a movie goes on about cerebral capacity, and genetic evolution and revolution, even I, who flunked science, know it's nothing but cinematic mumbo jumbo.

Luc Besson's film is so incredibly far-fetched, it is utterly loopy.

It also feels like it is inspired by bits and pieces of The Matrix, Limitless and his own Leon: The Professional.

So what kept me riveted? Scarlett Johansson.

This girl can do anything. From being a voice of a computer in Her to a super-agent in Captain America to a human-harvesting alien in Under The Skin - Johansson has range.

She carries this film amazingly, grabbing you the instant she shows up kohl-smudged in a hideous leopard print coat.

In the poignant scene where Lucy talks to her mother on the phone, you feel her helplessness, despite the corny dialogue, as she realises her fate.

It is said the eyes are the window to one's soul.

You know Lucy gains new powers with each darting glance, and when she is losing grip of humanity, her stares get colder and more remote.

Besson may have lost me when he tries to get philosophical, but thankfully, his touch for choosing the right femme fatale is still there.

Johansson has, again, shown that her talents are limitless.

The consensus: Luc Besson returns to form with this ambitious flick that rides on Johansson’s charisma.

This article was published on Aug 20 in The New Paper.

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