This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would likely be a lot more negative.
It’s time for one of those films that you know is going to be bad from the get go. That being said, you always end up being curious on just how bad it could be. Lucy lives up to the expectations and then some as it gets real gritty right from the get go. It also gets pretty abstract and meta by the end as well so you can make your own theories at the end. It’s essentially a poor man’s Salt, but with added sci-fi powers.
The film starts off with Lucy being tricked by her beer buddy. He handcuffs her to a suspicious package that he was carrying since he knows that he’ll be murdered if he actually makes it to the destination. He figures that maybe they’ll go easy on Lucy and in a sense he’s right. The Yakuza syndicate decides to spare Lucy as they surgically implant her with drugs to take across the country. The beer buddy is shot to death anyway so he couldn’t find a way out in the end. Along the way, the drugs end up breaking out of their bag so Lucy gains super human abilities. She can now manipulate time, has super strength, telepathy, telekinesis, and a bunch of other stuff. She is effectively all powerful now and decides that she will use these abilities to beat people up and find the truth to the universe. Can she do all of this without instantly abusing her powers? Afraid not
The film can’t seem to decide if Lucy is downright evil at times or if she is only evil because she believes that she is above everyone. Regardless, you see her mowing everyone down in some moments and then in others she’ll suddenly become more of a pacifist. She shoots one guy who was having an operation since she claimed that he was going to die someday anyway…but she still murdered that innocent civilian. Then…she decides to spare the main villain. She just stabs him a few times before leaving and this allows him to make a comeback and murder a bunch of cops and hospital workers before the heroes bring him down. Of all the people to let live…she chose the main villain. It does make you wonder.
Also, the problem with the film is that Lucy is too powerful. She can do anything, but still makes the humans run to the front lines. When the mobsters are after her, she sends a few agents to stop them. A lot of these men die in the line of duty while she is busy talking to scientists and making her own computer. She could have just taken them all down with a wave of her hand and then gone back to the computer. Apparently it just wasn’t worth the effort since she is so far above being human now. In case you couldn’t tell, I didn’t like the character. Lucy’s not even sure what her personality is so it switches constantly during the movie. She also lost most of her personality anyway by the end of the film since apparently having all of the powers in the universe gives you a jaded view of the rest of the world. I suppose that’s fair, but it’d be nice if she wasn’t so boring about it.
Aside from that, lets talk about why the film isn’t good. It really all boils down to the fact that the film is super violent. It goes to extreme lengths the whole time which is why the film was quite far away from getting the PG-13 rating. You’ve got a lot of people shot pointblank in the film, surgeries being performed, and naturally some pretty shifty villains who only have pleasure on their minds. It makes for a pretty hard to watch combo as the film never really lets up on this. There are no happy scenes in the entire film. Sure, Hollywood crams in one of the most sudden and irrelevant kisses in all of cinema just so the film could have that element in there, but it’s just a dreary film the whole time. Lucy treats all of the characters like her pawns and she spends most of her screen time dancing around the real questions or waiting to be asked a decent one. The “experts” are pretty annoying since they don’t ask anything meaningful either. It felt like they were extremely slow on the uptake considering that they’re supposed to be the brightest bulbs out there.
The only good scene in the film was probably the montage where we got to see the cops catch all of the kidnapped people at the airport. One of them wisely tried to evade the police, but it was all for naught. That being said, the film didn’t want us to think that it lost its edge so immediately afterwards, the cops decided to leave these people by themselves. Effectively they did that anyway as they left one or two cops, but they were easily taken down by the Yakuza. I don’t know what the plan was there, but it was pretty bad and naturally they were murdered once again in a gruesome fashion.
Lucy’s climax decides to get even more messed up as we find out that she sacrificed all of those lives for a flash drive. I’m not sure if that’s a good deal and I was half expecting the scientists to chuck it in the trash. They’d have some kind of excuse like “Humanity’s not ready for it yet” and then the film would end with the revelation that nothing was accomplished in the film’s duration. Kind of a sobering thought isn’t it? The visuals were pretty nice as Lucy gained dark matter abilities and started to run wild, but it still didn’t really amount to much in the end. It’s a problem that a lot of horror films have as well. If the villain is all powerful and the humans are ordinary mortals…then it’s not going to be very interesting. The sides are so unbalanced that there can be no fights, only massacres. You always want to have a well matched battle or at least one where the opposing side can realistically fight back.
Lucy is all style and no substance. You’ll be hard pressed to find a film more devoid of entertainment than this one. Just keep in mind the fact that there are no happy scenes in the entire film. The whole thing…it’s all extremely serious business as everyone speaks in an emotionless, monotone voice. The cast is super small as well which is probably for the best since more characters wouldn’t necessarily help matters at all. The film would just need a complete re-write to be even semi decent. I’d also say to switch out the main actress since she always seems to play the exact same character and that’s not what Lucy needs. Lucy should have focused on the fact that she got cool powers and came to terms with them to fight an alien invasion. Not getting all powerful in an instant and then getting bored with it all. It’s too much in too short of a time span. The final twist of Lucy actually being an ape was also just a face palm moment.
Overall, Lucy’s not a good film. You’ll know this within the first 10 minutes of the film and it never goes up from there. The visuals can be fun when they aren’t being used for gratuitous violence but that’s hardly enough to keep your interest. Lucy uses her powers in the most inefficient ways possible and she has no empathy for anyone. She may know a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean the data is worth everyone dying for. I’d recommend watching something that has cool action scenes while not getting too dark. Check out Man of Steel. It’s also pretty serious with almost no comedy moments, but it still keeps the atmosphere light enough for you to have some fun with it. It also benefits from having a better cast. After all, Lucy is basically the only real character here. The cop and the scientist do much aside from being around for the facial expressions and “epic” camera zoom-ins.