Holy crap, Lucy is the best movie I've seen this year!

This movie is a Singularitarian Limitless with a protagonist who isn't a moron.

Science fiction -- I am a fan. And if you've ever heard me sneer at a movie, I've probably said some variant of "bad science, worse fiction", because most self-professed "science fiction" movies and TV are actually fantasy with lasers.

In fantasy, the answer to the question of "why is this possible" is "because the plot demands it".

In science fiction, the answer to that question is "because that's the logical consequence of the 'what if' we proposed in the opening scene."

Without giving too many spoilers, this movie is really solid. But I have some script notes...

Basically everything that Morgan Freeman's character says makes me want to punch myself in the face. The whole "10% of your brain" thing has been discredited for decades, and if you hear someone trot it out then they're probably the kind of person who gets their evidence from I Fucking Love Science or other sources of GIF factoids about astrology woo energy.

But! He's just some schmuck in a movie! Not a reliable narrator. I can tolerate him as some character who's just wrong about what's happening. That's fine. But seriously though, throw me a bone? I think that whoever actually wrote the first draft of this thing was of My People, and really, if Lucy had hung a goddamned lantern on it, and thrown out even a single line like, "It's pheromones, nanites, and designer retroviruses, ok? You wouldn't understand" it would have... really pulled that room together.

But in any script, the ending is where it's your game to lose. And about 15 minutes from the end, I kept saying to myself, "Do the 2001 ending, do the 2001 ending."

I'll just say that I found the ending satisfying -- as satisfying as in Her.

Also, stylistically speaking -- 10 minutes in, I turned to my friend and asked, "Wait, is this a Luc Besson movie?" Because I had forgotten that it's a Luc Besson movie. But yeah, it hits those signature notes.

Tags: , , , ,

20 Responses:

  1. Noted. I see so very few movies nowadays, what with digging my own life and having netflix. Nice to know which movie I should bother seeing.

  2. I am pretty glad to hear a positive review of this.

  3. I wanted to see this, but read so many bad reviews and tweets about it this weekend. I'm relieved to see a dissenting opinion, particularly from the likes of you. Thanks.

  4. Dan says:

    If it isn't Fantasy with Lasers, it's Horror with Spaceships. Bleah. Thanks for the review, now I'll definitely go see it.

  5. Chas. Owens says:

    The advertising made me write it off (I had put in the same "don't pay for it" category as Transcendence), but this review is making me reconsider that.

  6. Mbourgon says:

    There are some glorious bits, but it really seemed like it needed to finish. Yeah, it ended, but it didn't finish. It seemed like he had half of a movie in there, and padded it out with star-trek-style-babble.

    Which sucks. I love Besson, have watched Fifth Element and The Professional hundreds of times each (and love District B13, and Kiss of the Dragon, and Transporter). But it needed more. And my god, the plot hole. Once you know where X are going, why not kill...

  7. SPOILERS AHEAD, PPL: Really?! From a writing perspective, there were problems. I mean, she clearly has NO PROBLEM morally with murder and kills several people right off the bat, but then she neglects to KILL THE REALLY BAD PPL when she has the chance. Why? Because THE WRITER needs an ANTAGONIST and the "TICKING CLOCK" of guys beating down the door at the end. (Sorry for shouting, but I'm passionate about this.) If she dispenses with them, there is no story, no tension, no problem. I get it, but it was not done believably. They should have referenced either some higher morality kicking in or a total lack of concern for anything "worldly" anymore. But they didn't articulate anything that made sense as to why she wouldn't take them out. I wanted to allow that maybe as she's becoming less human, she sees the bigger picture and knows the outcome will be in her favor, so she doesn't bother, but it just seemed so damn convenient. For example, cop dude could have "called in" to have the cop cars stop chasing them, but, no, she'd rather create accidents so they are dead or paralyzed for the rest of their lives. Wha??? And that stupid kiss for no effing reason was ridiculous. She could have just said, "I need a reminder." But, no, this is a ScarJo movie; we're gonna need some tongue. Lame. But, ya know, all of that said, I'm down with any movie where a female character is the badass...

    • mattyj says:

      "If she dispenses with them, there is no story, no tension, no problem."

      That's kind of exactly the point of a movie that lasts more than 30 seconds. But have fun with your OCD.

      Did you notice that the Rosebud at the end of Citizen Cane wasn't the same exact sled they showed earlier? OMG, that movie sucked so bad because of this one little detail.

  8. Would you be willing to write a story about it or answer a q&a for my non-profit? We publish in larger blogs.

  9. Tom Day says:

    Thanks for the tip, just saw it in IMAX and loved it.

  10. THANK YOU @jwz for your take on this film. Its definitely my favorite of the year as well.

    My only comment is: a thumb drive!? Not some kind of fault tolerant data storage system? LOL

  11. jwz says:

    Todd Alcott also liked Lucy and he's almost always right.

  12. Otto says:

    Slight spoilers below. Nothing too specific.

    The percentage thing didn't really bother me. Yes, it's a tired old trope, and the only purpose of it here was to serve as a ticking clock to push the pace of the film. Fair enough.

    The "magic drug" thing bothered me a bit, but realistically, in a sci-fi romp, you need that magic kickstarter to set up the rest of what plays out. Fine, magic drug. Sure.

    What really bugged me was some of the stuff that was wholly unrealistic anywhere outside of a movie-world. And I'm not talking the sci-fi elements or the time travel or the black strangeness at the end, but in the behavior of the characters. The cop didn't act like any normal human being at all. He gets a call, follows up on it, meets the girl with superpowers, and then doesn't freak his shit out immediately and start trying to take any form of control over the situation. The unnecessary kiss scene was only there because we have to have Scarlett be a bit sexy in some fashion. The weird plane sequence that just sort of ends without knowing wtf just happened...

    I can see the parallels to Kubrick et al, because the movie leaves you to find your own explanations for the weirder bits and frankly I don't mind that at all; hell, better that than try to explain events with psuedo-science gibberish. But still, about every 10 minutes I was baffled by the behavior of one or another of the various side characters. The story was good, the effects were great, the action was suitably actiony and very Luc Besson, but the characters other than Lucy simply behaved in ways that just didn't make any normal human sense, and that made the trip through the movie as a whole unsatisfying. The ending was very good though, and that kinda made it worthwhile.

    It is a good movie, but it could have done with a few more attempts at making the characters into human beings as opposed to props there only to set up the next event. But hey, it is an action thriller movie more than a sci-fi, so I guess you get what you get there.

  13. mattyj says:

    Quoting Luc Besson from Vulture:

    "The 10 percent is a metaphor in a way. So that’s why I was not bothered by that. I’m always amazed by these people who become scientists at the last minute and go, “This is wrong!” Of course; it’s a film. [Laughs.] What’s more interesting — more than the 10 percent or the 15 percent — is that if we get the capacity of full intelligence, in the film, we say that the first step is the control of the cell, the second step is the control of others, the third is the control of matter, and the fourth is the control of time. And I talked to a lot of scientists, and they believe that at least the first three are possible. They don’t say it’s true, but it’s at least logical. The good thing is when you take a lot of things that are totally right and mix them very well with a few things that are wrong, at the end of the film, you think everything is real. And that’s the magic of film."

    So, you know, get over it.

    I liked Lucy a lot. It has one of the best car chases I've seen in recent years, and there was only on car in it. Amazing.