Luc Besson must be one hell of a happy man. Lucy conquered this past weekend’s box office with $44 million in earnings – that is the strongest opening for a film he directed – well surpassing even The Fifth Element – and the second best opening if you include his productions. So Lucy is due to be the talk of the town. But you know some people will nitpick about the plot’s central theme…
In the movie Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is infused with a drug that makes her use more and more of her brain capacity. Eventually she is a total superhuman with 100 percent of her noggin on the job. This plays off the idea that we use only 10 percent of our brains, but as has been pointed out already, that is just a big myth. We use all of it.
Still, don’t let that get in the way of a good story. Talking to Rolling Stone, Besson said he wanted to explore the idea of increased brain usage, but not as a documentary:
“The brain cell only has two solutions, either to reproduce or be immortal,” Besson says. “Obviously, we choose reproduction; we make kids and we pass it on. There are so many things that are repetitive in our style of life; I’m very excited and concerned about these patterns. It’s very interesting.” He could feel the inspiration for a movie coming on. “I didn’t want to do a documentary,” he clarifies. “I wanted to do something that was entertaining — but with a catch.”
It all came together nicely because Johansson was totally on board with the concept:
“I think it was only after we came to, ‘Okay, we’re going to do it,’ that she realized how hard [the role] would be to play,” Besson recalls with a chuckle. The two finally they came up with the best method to map out Lucy’s evolution. “We put a big piece of paper on the wall,” says Besson, “and we wrote 10%, 20%, 30%, all the way to 100% — and then I filled the entire paper with what she can do and can’t do at each level. It was almost like a checklist before you take off on a plane. So every morning when Scarlett knew which scene we were doing, she would just refer to the big piece of paper on the wall. I think if we didn’t do that she would have been lost.”
Possibly the most interesting thing about Lucy though, is that the movie you’re seeing in all the trailers is not quite the movie you’ll end up seeing on screen. Without really getting into spoiler territory, Besson’s film is far less standard action movie fare than what you may think, as it boasts elements that are much more akin to more esoteric and existential films like Terrence Mallick’s The Tree of Life and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Using unexpected “flashback” sequences in the film, Besson charts humanity’s progress from prehistoric man’s simple minded life to the fully evolved brain power of Johansson’s character.
“I’m not the same moviegoer or moviemaker as I was 10 years ago. There are action films made now that are really well done, but after 40 minutes, I get bored. It’s all the same.”
“I’ve pushed the audience to be alert. But if you are expecting a normal thriller, you won’t be ready for the end [of the movie]. It will look very weird.”
And you can find out for yourself just how weird it is when Lucy opens locally on 29 August 2014.[PLEASE NOTE: Due to some unforeseen technical difficulties, the last part of this story was cut off earlier, but has been included again now.]
Last Updated: July 29, 2014