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Review: Lucy, or Know Your Directors: Luc Besson

Hybrid Stars

At first, I thought Lucy was Luc Besson's first directorial gig in a long time. But IMDb has proven me wrong. He had one last year, in fact, and it was a Hollywood film, which means I should have at least heard of it. But I have not. This could only mean either 1) it wasn't really a Hollywood film but a French film with a Hollywood cast; or 2) it did so poorly at the US box office that they chose not to distribute it here.

It was, in fact, the second one. It scored 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is around the average score for a Luc Besson film. So does that mean he sucks? No. Maybe. I don't really care.

The Golden Rule of Moviegoing is this: Never let critics dictate your cinematic taste. That rhymes, so dibs.

Luc Besson is one of my favourite film directors. I don't care what others think. I watched this film because it was directed by Luc Besson, and not because of the promise of seeing a Scarlett Johansson butt close-up. Now let's use this time to discuss Luc Besson's directing style in relation to his latest film, Lucy.

Why would anyone cover his eyes with ScarJo right in front of him?

1. Luc Besson loves female heroines. 
We've all seen this before–The Fifth Element, Joan of Arc, La Femme Nikita–so using ScarJo to play Lucy a.k.a. "The Female Neo" shouldn't come as a surprise. There are other Besson films that don't have a female lead protagonist, such as Taken and The Transporter, but these films have manly men in the lead, which makes me think that Besson will only use a male actor in a lead role if that actor can out-alpha him.

2. Luc Besson has such a wide range of topics to discuss.
He loves comedy, religion, espionage, action sequences, car chases, and parkour, among a lot of other things. But this is the first time I've ever seen a Luc Besson movie try to blow your mind. This'll be such a treat to geeks, especially those who've seen the 2014 remake of Carl Sagan's Cosmos in its entirety or those who've ingested huge amounts of psychedelic substances in college. Also, watch out for Lucy... not Scarlett Johansson's Lucy. The australopithecine Lucy you've seen on National Geographic. Yes, that Lucy. She's in this film. Thanks, Luc Besson!

3. Luc Besson is like a French Tony Scott.
In order to do justice to comparing these two great filmmakers, I should do a separate post discussing the late Tony Scott's directing style. If you ask me what a Besson-Scott film looks like, I'd describe it as "music video-y". By that I mean fast-paced, fancy cuts, high-adrenaline action sequences, and a killer soundtrack that complements the visuals. Luc Besson (and Scott as well) can do avant-garde styles without resorting to the bullet-time slow-motion sequences popularised by the Wachowskis back in the turn of the millenium.

See? This is so Matrix.

Lucy. France. 2014.

Original rating: 6.9 / 10
Mind-blowing subject matter: + 0.1
Scarlett Johansson: + 0.1
Morgan Freeman's moles up close: - 0.1
Luc Besson's multi-ethnic cross-cultural setting: + 0.05
Lucy the cavewoman: + 0.05
Final rating: 7.1 / 10

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