Friday, August 22, 2014

Movie Review - Lucy (2014)

I first heard about Lucy on Zawinski's site; I stopped reading fairly quickly, but unfortunately he was really positive early on. Then he, or possibly someone else, brought up Her; I'd forgotten the context, but the point is that I'd really enjoyed that movie -- although I can see some of the criticisms that CGP Grey has raised -- and so, it's fair to say that when it came to Lucy, I had significant expectations.

(Besson himself isn't the best indicator for me: I remember really embracing Léon -- which I saw as The Professional -- but that was a long time ago, and it's difficult to know how much of the enjoyment I got from The Transporter and Taken is down to his writing.)

***** SPOILERS BEGIN *****

Opening with CGI was a mistake, I felt. My first thought was, "Oh no, I'm in another Marvel movie." But it got interesting quickly; very interesting. I think the first half hour of the movie is its strongest. There's real tension and threat, and a good pace with little exposition. And I really liked the cuts and interplay: a shot over the bow that things could get surreal, which this material lends itself to, I think few would argue.

Things start to fall apart shortly after the hospital scene. For me, that should've been a farewell to Lucy as we've known her. It's beautiful and poignant, that conversation with her mother. From then on out, it's going to be difficult to convince us that Lucy is in any danger. (That said, I did like the 'reminder' kiss later on -- that was a reminder for us too, and served to reinforce the transformation.) Besson ignores this at his peril, I feel, as the movie sags in the middle. The car chase should've been heavily cut; it was pointless in the face of Lucy's flawless performance. Similarly, while the first, aborted shootout really worked -- Lucy stopping it before it even began -- the second was just ridiculous; a chance to squeeze in some action where it had no place being.

Other than that shootout, however, things definitely picked up for the conclusion. Again, I liked the surreal bits. But what I keep coming back to, now, is Besson's ambition; he really reached with this, and almost got it, at times -- particularly in the opening, as I've said. What really lets him down in the conclusion is the music: it simply can't live up to the concepts he's presenting. He needs something like Sunshine's Adagio in D Minor or 2001: A Space Odyssey's Also sprach Zarathustra, and doesn't come close, in my opinion. He might've been better off using silence, at times.

Speaking of Kubrick -- and it was hard not to think of him, with the early appearance of the primitive Lucy -- I would've loved to have seen his take on this script. I also think Chan-wook Park could've done more with it. Again, it's on the surreal, trippy stuff that this movie lives or dies for me, and both of them would've grabbed that with both hands, I feel. I think it was with the overhead shot of Mr. Jang's body in the chair near the end that I realized I'd been thinking about Park for some time, but, with hindsight, it was obviously the casting of Min-sik Choi as well; I just didn't recognize him -- consciously anyway -- until the end of the movie.

***** SPOILERS END *****

With all that, you could be forgiven for thinking I didn't like the movie. Not so. I'm glad I saw it. There were some great... no, fantastic shots, and, as I've said, the opening was really strong. I'd just suggest you temper your expectations, going in.