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Lucy

tn_lucyLUCY is the new movie by Luc Besson and his first directorial work since… THE MESSENGER? … to be noticed much in the U.S. He had supposedly retired from directing after ANGEL-A in 2005, but then he made another one of those ARTHUR children’s movies and by 2010 he was doing THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC (which I liked) and fuck it, he was still a director. Last year he did THE FAMILY with Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer (which I, like most Americans, haven’t gotten around to yet) but now all the sudden he has this LUCY and it’s a big hit, opening much bigger than The Rock’s HERCULES even though that one is PG-13. (There actually was a point early in LUCY where I thought to myself “Oh good, they do still make R-rated movies.”)

Scarlett Johansson plays the titlogical Lucy, a student in Taiwan when her douchebag boyfriend of one week (a Donal-Logue-at-a-rave type dude with a shitty cowboy hat and yellow-tinted glasses) gets her involved against her will with some ruthless gangsters led by Choi Min-sik (OLDBOY). She doesn’t speak the language so she barely knows what’s going on by the time she has a bag of experimental drugs (actually blue pop rocks I think) sewn into her belly for clandestine transport.

mp_lucyThen a run-in with one of these rapey guards that all action movie bad guys employ gets her kicked in the belly, the drug leaks into her, her mind begins to expand and she basically gets super powers. She starts to know all, remember all. She can teach herself languages. Then she can control airwaves, talk to people through their TVs. She can control her cells, morphing like Mystique. She can control others – slam them against walls or ceilings without touching them. She can bend all manners of reality. Basically, she’s Neo but in the real world instead of the Matrix and she chooses not to wear a trenchcoat because that’s not really her thing. She actually looks real good in just a white t-shirt.

Every single person I’ve seen or heard praise this has been sure to emphasize that they know it’s a dumb movie. I think probly the sole reason that disclaimer is necessary is that Besson bases the whole premise on the myth that people only use 10% of their brain capacity. We keep cutting to Professor Morgan Freeman (UNLEASHED) lecturing on the topic, and we get periodic onscreen updates of what percentage Lucy is currently at as her intelligence expands. Usually scenes like this suggest that the movie is science fictionalizing off of a current scientific theory. Not the case here, so you’re just gonna have to let that go like you maybe did with LIMITLESS‘s “you only use 20% of your brain,” if you saw that one.

Major Besson oversight: no parkour. It shoulda been once you get to 30% you are a parkour master.

Johansson, having just played an alien in UNDER THE SKIN, has her detached-super-being game up to speed. She squints curiously at the world and people around her, constantly noticing new things, but not really reacting to anything. She’s above reacting. I think my favorite scene is an emotional one, though: while forcing surgeons at gunpoint to remove the bag from her belly she calls her mom and tells her about what she can feel, what she can remember, detailed descriptions of things she experienced as a baby.

That’s almost like a Besson motif, calling your mom during an unbelievable situation. Bruce talks to his mom on the phone in THE FIFTH ELEMENT. But in that one it’s played as a joke, this one isn’t, and it’s very intense as it’s done mostly in one long closeup. She’s trying to make a very human connection just as she’s growing away from humanity.

The dangerous criminal underworld is in line with LEON or some of Besson’s work as an action producer. There’s a shootout in a fancy lobby like FIFTH ELEMENT and a rocket launcher like LEON or COLOMBIANA. But I think the most Bessonian element is how much it celebrates the beauty of Scarlett Johansson. His camera worships her like it did Milla Jovovich back when he was married to her. Back when she was his idea of “the perfect being.” He shows Johansson in a bra and in a see-through shirt, but it’s her face he’s in awe of. If science ever needs to re-create Johansson’s nose we have plenty of reference material here in long, hypnotic closeups.

What I didn’t expect was the playful use of stock footage, for example a quick cut to a mouse walking toward a trap as she first encounters the gangsters, or the sarcastic montage of exotic rituals and time lapse that represents the breadth of human achievement. It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek pretentiousness that fits well with the all-encompassing-knowledge subject but never feels spastic like a quick-cutting son of NATURAL BORN KILLERS. I recognized some shots from SAMSARA in there, but he also has footage of a guy solving a Rubik’s cube. I wish Besson would’ve included a quick shot of Ruby Rhod in there, or The Transporter. Maybe from part 2 where he catches the car bomb on the crane, or part 1 where he slides around in the oil.

Speaking of Ruby Rhod, I saw this and HERCULES both on the opening weekend and realized they’re both by directors who did Chris Tucker movies. And both of these could stand to have Tucker in them. Maybe if it was him instead of Freeman then more people would be able to laugh off that 10% bullshit. Freeman just radiates credibility and authority and I can see why for some people it’s upsetting to see him saying this shit that will only lead to more knuckleheads around the world repeating this “fact” back and forth to impress each other. Freeman did make me laugh though with a hilariously over-friendly “Hi there!” when he calls Lucy on the phone during a dire situation.

Have you guys noticed that there are alot of movies now that start off unexpectedly in the ancient past? Examples include THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE, PROMETHEUS, TRANSFORMERS PRESENTS AGE OF EXTINCTION, and I will not say whether or not it includes LUCY, I might’ve just brought it up apropos of nothing. You won’t really know until you see it. Anyway, I guess it’s kind of a cliche by now but I don’t give a shit, I always dig it. Definitely in this case the idea comes from 2001, and there are allusions to the monolith and shit too. Maybe a little obvious but still an odd fit for a summer b-movie, and I appreciate it.

It gets pretty strange at the end. In this age of movies that are always designed to set up franchises it’s refreshingly weird where she ends up, not something that would be easy to sequelize. But then again Besson had intended to make a sequel to THE FIFTH ELEMENT about Mr. Shadow, the evil talking asteroid, so who knows what he may or may not be up to.

I love that Scarlett Johansson has broken out in this way. Out of honesty I gotta admit that she just keeps getting hotter and I have a weakness for that. That could cloud my judgment. But she’s giving genuinely interesting performances and picking enjoyable movies. She went from shoe-horned in character in IRON MAN 2 to movie stealer in THE AVENGERS and WINTER SOLDIER, and she also keeps getting better at the posing with guns and staring and strutting menacingly and that type of shit that’s important to me. But the smaller projects she’s been involved with on the side – UNDER THE SKIN, HER, this – are a good indication that she will use her growing stardom for other greater goods.

So for God’s sake, I ask you again, give her the respect of spelling out her full name. It’s not that many syllables.

Besson has a fun approach to gender politics. Yes, he’s a horny motherfucker, but also his heroines are powerful. He’s done biopics of Joan of Arc and Aung San Suu Kyi, and also he has his action women. They’re mistreated by scumbag men, but they cannot be contained – not Nikita in a prison or an assassination agency, not Leloo in a glass box, not Lucy in 10% of her brain. She can’t be confined by reality! None of the men can handle her, not even the nice professor, whose life of research she immediately calls “rudimentary, but on the right track” and then he spends their whole relationship struggling to keep up with her. There’s a great moment where the male cop character points out that he’s useless, he has nothing to contribute to her mission. She basically tells him that his purpose is to be with her and look pretty. He’s the eye candy. The girlfriend.

That’s also a Besson thing I guess, for characters to recognize they don’t need to be in the movie anymore and opt out.

I’ll take a cue and acknowledge that I don’t need to continue this review anymore. But LUCY is a fun one, goofy crowdpleasing pulp with a healthy helping of strangeness and style. Keep on making ’em, Besson you weirdo.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2014 at 3:50 pm and is filed under Action, Crime, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

46 Responses to “Lucy”

  1. The Family is actually one of the worst pieces of shit of all time.

  2. I do want to see this, but this 10% bullshit is the neuroscience equivalent of a movie about Christopher Columbus setting out to prove the world wasn’t flat.

    Or like in other movies when they successfully revive someone with no heart beat using a defibrillator.

    Some pills are harder to swallow than others. Like I was okay with Superman turning back time in part one by flying real fast around the earth. Like maybe he flew so fast HE traveled back in time and it wasn’t the earth spinning backward that did it, maybe? But in part 4 when he deposited the bad guy on the “dark side” of the moon so he’d never get his sun powers back? Superman I have got some bad news for you, buddy.

    I think I’ll be able to look past my irritation for some sweet ScarJo ass-kicking action, though. Maybe.

  3. I liked this one too, even if I’m not exactly sure what Besson was aiming at here but that’s part of the appeal for me. Plus it helps that at 90 something minutes its nicely paced and never gets dull. I mean after producing so many B-movie actioneers (including forgettable ones we got earlier this year in BRICK MANSIONS and 3 DAYS TO KILL), its refreshing to see Besson be truely interesting again. Then again I hadn’t seen that film Vern did so I might want to check that out?

    My favorite scene was at the ER.*SPOILERS* I busted a laugh at ScarJo killing that patient those doctors were doing surgery on, only to calmly excuse this because the patient was gonna die from a brain tumor anyway.

  4. Sorry but nothing could get me to watch a Scarlett Johanson movie outside of blatant misogyny like her walking around with her tits out for 2 hours. Not even Luc Besson in watered down La Femme Nikita mode. I would never understand how people consider her such a great actress. She’s stilted and wooden as fuck every single time with horrendous delivery.

  5. Count me as another one annoyed by the 10% horsecrap too. Every time I see that commercial and Morgan Freeman spouts that bullshit I expect him to say “at a time” but he never does.

  6. I don’t understand just why it had to have that gimmick, why couldn’t they just say the drug makes her superhuman? why did it need to be based around a myth no one believes?

  7. I dunno, there’s so many outlandish scenarios that we accept in other movies (like I’m pretty sure Rockules wasn’t a real guy), so the 10% bullshit here is just another thing to roll with. It’s interesting because for something built on an obviously false premise, it tries to go pseudo-intellectual, only it’s still really kind of dumb the whole time? Weird movie, but it’s got a lot of energy. I’ll take it over something that’s downright forgettable.

  8. Wow, this movie really has an awful lot in common with THE LAWNMOWER MAN.

    Funniest part – the smartest human being ever tells her roommate to “eat organic”.

  9. Why is it necessary that the premise for this film be based on actual science? Why this one? We buy into the pseudo-science of the Star Treks and all the superheroes. No one bats an eye at a radioactive spider. I really don’t get the complaint here.

    At any rate, this looks like a lot of fun. SALT with superpowers. I’m actually way more interested in UNDER THE SKIN, though. I’m gonna check that out very soon.

  10. Dikembe Mutombo

    August 1st, 2014 at 7:32 am

    A lot of people have been liking this movie but I can’t fucking do it after THE FAMILY, one of my least liked movies in years. Lazy, uninspired LCD-pandering mix of sadism and sentimentality, directed with zero flair. I swore Besson had completely lost it after seeing that in the theater. Michelle Pfeiffer was the only person in it who showed up to work.

  11. Well now that Scarlett has gotten naked in Under the skin, can someone put her in a movie with a scene like Halle Berry’s in Monster’s Ball? Ooofaah!

  12. UNDER THE SKIN is my favourite movie of the year, and unlikely to be topped. And I actually really enjoyed THE FAMILY.

    anaru- If this does borrow from THE LAWNMOWER MAN, it’d be the second major release of the year to do so after TRANSCENDENCE. LIMITLESS also seemed to borrow a little from Brett Leonard’s calling card. It’s funny the films that sometimes have more resonance than you’d expect.

  13. Darryll – It’s simple because those movies don’t hinge their entire premise in selling up pseudo science as legitimate. The radioactive spider thing is handled a lot more tongue in cheek (at least in the Raimi movie I’ve never seen or will ever see the new series). You also don’t see it as the basis that the whole premise hinges on. More attention is paid to this kid being able to swing around and shoot webs than is ever paid to any of the science being presented as plausible.

    LUCY on the other hand has an entire ad campaign selling us on the idea that “Lucy uses more than 10% of her brain”. Ok that’s nice but so do the rest of us. What’s so engaging about that? how are we supposed to believe that she is MORE than the rest of us when she is being propped up for having the same capabilities as the rest of us?

    It comes across as more insulting. Take a movie like LIMITLESS which Pacman2.0 mentioned for example. I could buy more into the premise of a super pill giving you extra brain power abilities than I could the premise of this movie. Even though on paper it’s pretty much the exact same premise and just as stupid the phrasing and wording is key. You don’t have anybody in LIMITLESS talking about “Bradley Cooper could use more than 10% of his brain” and leave it at that they at least blatantly spell out that he is able to us 100% of his brain capabilities AT A TIME after taking the pill.

    It’s all in the execution and Lucy’s is more ignorant with the wording so it’s a lot more jarring because it immediately makes you think of real world science and not about suspending your disbelief.

  14. Besson is hit or miss for me. I tend to like the films he produces more than the films he actually directs. I didn’t like THE FAMILY, and hand no plans on seeing this film but I ended up really enjoying it. I am not sure I would even say it is a good movie but it was so shamelessly ridiculous it won me over. (SPOILERS) I especially enjoyed the ending. I bet there are many people that will hate it but the climax was so crazy that it made me like the film even more. However, I am not even sure if I truly like the ending or just love that it is a completely bananas conclusion to a mainstream summer blockbuster. (MAJOR SPOILERS) Am I wrong or did Lucy become god at the end of film? In the climax when her brain is reaching 100% of its potential and she is transforming into a super computer (Yes you read that right) that has access to the building blocks of time and space as we know it she begins experience all of time at once and jumps from one period in time to the next. One moment she is in GANGS OF NEW YORK era NYC, the next she is watching Dinosaurs hunt, but at one point she flashes to the moment in time from the beginning of the film and Scarjo Lucy comes face to face with primitive Lucy the first human being. In that moment as Scarjo Lucy reaches 100% of her potential she shares a moment with primitive Lucy and touches finger tips with her just like God touches Adam in Michelangelo’s THE CREATION OF ADAM from the Sistine Chapel. That visual reference to THE CREATION OF ADAM has to be intentional because Besson even shows it on screen earlier in the film.

  15. Yeah, I really liked this one. And I was a bit wary of the premise going in. But I still don’t quite get the vitriol this movie is receiving from people who have only seen the trailers. Yeah, we all get it, the “humans only use 10% of their brain” thing is dumb. You’re not smarter than everybody else just because you also read that article on Cracked.com.

    And it’s perfectly reasonable to have disdain for this premise. The thing I don’t get is people getting angry about it. People are reacting to this like George Lucas just digitally added nipples to Darth Vader’s costume in the latest special edition. I think this is one of those times where people just go with the mob mentality, and apparently we decided this was the movie we would all get angry at and run out of town. It’s kind of like how people still bitch about Indy getting nuked in the fridge. They just arbitrarily pick something that was kind of silly and decide that this one thing crossed the line of believability, so they are compelled bitch about it whenever it is mentioned.

    And Lucy isn’t even a beloved childhood intellectual property entertainment product, so I REALLY don’t get the reaction. Just treat this movie like you would Crank. It’s just a silly action movie with a ridiculous premise and lots of fun parts. Relax!

  16. RJ_MacReady – It’s really not as serious as you’re making it out to be.

  17. Charles, I’m right with you on the ending. While I was watching it I kept thinking “this is so unconventional, clearly people will hate this ending” but I don’t think I’ve heard anybody complain about that part. And I don’t know if [SPOILERSSSSSSSSSSS] Lucy was supposed to be either “God” or just “god-like” at the end. I mean, clearly she has god-like powers, including control over space and time and matter. But I was a little confused if they were trying to say that she literally went back in time and created the idea of God for primitive humans and she’s actually what early man based their perception of God on. The visual reference to the Creation of Adam is the only thing that makes me think that’s what they were going for, so maybe I’m just reading too much into it. I also got some serious Dr. Manhattan vibes from this ending. Though with more compassion and less dong.

  18. Broddie, what’s not as serious? The reaction to the 10% thing? Literally every article I’ve read about this movie, when I scroll down to the comments section I invariably find comments dripping with smug superiority and vitriol talking about how stupid the premise is and how stupid you are if you like the movie and how much smarter the commenter is for seeing through the bullshit that all the other sheeple fall for, man. There may not be as big of an uproar as there was for Indy’s Wild Fridge Ride or the school dance scene in Matrix Reloaded, but to me this reaction seems to be in that same vein.

  19. What I mean is at the end of the day you felt you got your money’s worth. Those articles shouldn’t even be within your dojo. You had a good time with the movie that’s the end of the line. That’s what matters. The viewer was entertained. You aren’t the only one either it made decent money at the box office. Those articles are just flub pieces created to trend on social media. Don’t take them too seriously because they’re not worth the effort.

  20. Well if my previous comment offended you I’m sorry but personally for me

    1) I haven’t read cracked in years. It got monotonous pretty fast.

    2) I knew about that 10% myth BS long before that article even existed.

    For what it’s worth when I spoke about that I’m just posting my opinions and the things about this movie that turned me off as a viewer. I don’t even really read any websites related to movies in anyway outside of this one. Really haven’t in years.

  21. *potential viewer

  22. I’m still mad at Cracked over the fallout from that “Fuck Cracked, pay Vern” campaign I instigated. Months after it worked and they cut Vern a check, I kept getting messages from some troll who thought he was really sticking it to me by saying shit like ‘U MAD BRO?’ because a million Vernonites hadn’t emerged from the woodwork to join the cause, which, to this guy (who, it should be noted, took time out of his day to try to stick it to somebody he didn’t know over an incident that took place months previous that involved two parties to whom he held no allegiance) meant that I was a failure and everything I ever cared about was a fraud and I should be reminded of this fact daily by some anonymous dickbag on the internet. After that, I figured that even though they paid Vern what they owed him, if this was the caliber of reader they were attracting, I didn’t really feel like being numbered in that particular demographic.

    So yeah. Fuck Cracked Pay Vern 4 Life.

  23. Also I really want to see this movie. I like it when Besson has the pretty ladies do the violence.

  24. RJ, (SPOILERS) your Dr Manhattan comparison is a good one. It also reminded me of AKIRA.

  25. The Original Paul

    August 1st, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I have no idea if this one is even being released in Britain or not. Probably not, I’ve not seen any marketing for it at least. But I also don’t get the “10%” complaint, at least from people who haven’t yet seen the movie. Seems to me like complaining that Michael Myers couldn’t possibly come back from all those gunshots, or that The Thing couldn’t possibly mimic human beings’ behavior perfectly yet copy them only at a cellular level. I guess it’s different coming from people who’ve actually seen the film.

  26. The main annoyance to me, The Original Paul, is that it’s obvious the person who had the idea for the movie believes the 10% thing, or did at the time. And then they either didn’t care enough to find a different explanation, or they still believe it now. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that… it’s just lazy and stupid and I get annoyed when stupid people try to sound smart by parroting something they heard when they were in 4th grade and never bothered to find out if it was true. Like the Columbus thing I mentioned above. There are still adults living on this planet who think Columbus proved the Earth is round.

    Hell, there’s at least one person who isn’t convinced that it is.

    Dumb stuff like that irritates those of us who place a high value on questioning what you’re taught. Somebody heard the 10% thing and said “man, what would it be like if you could use 100%???” not realizing that A) many other movies have already done this, and B) it’s complete bullshit. Hell, even Broddie in the comments above, who confessed he is also annoyed by it, is annoyed for the wrong reason, because “10% at a time” isn’t true either! :)

    So, at least for me, the irritation isn’t that the myth is used in the film, it’s that the person who wrote this movie probably thinks it’s true. Or, at the very least, thinks his audience won’t notice or care.

    For a counterpoint, see how in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES only the stupid characters called the Apes “monkeys”.

    Hopefully that explains it a little better?

  27. Though, a better controversy is how exactly some people don’t think Scarlett Johansson is the sexiest woman on the planet. I mean, come on! That’s something I don’t get.

  28. Charles: I was definitely thinking of Akira when Lucy was (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) creating a supercomputer out of her own body. I literally whispered “TETSUO!!!!” to the empty seat next to me. If my friend Toby had been there, he would have laughed his ass off. Thus is the danger of working a night job and watching movies on Friday afternoon before everybody else gets to see it.

  29. Oh god I had forgotten he directed The Family. That movie is absolutely horrible. I bet you Vern finds things to like in it. He is always do positive.

  30. Funny how some actresses do nude scenes early in their careers but then have strict no-nudity policies when they become A-listers – Sandra Bullock in FIRE ON THE AMAZON, Reese Witherspoon in TWILIGHT(the Paul Newman one), come to mind.

    Nice to see Scarlett doing it the other way round. Can’t recall her doing nudity(maybe MATCH POINT?) at all until UNDER THE SKIN.

  31. The thing that makes me not want to see the movie (besides the fact that I paid money to see THE FAMILY too) is the whole thing about her developing telekinesis. I mean, really, how does the movie justify having her develop that super power?

  32. Doesn’t matter how much more advanced than a dolphin or a supercomputer or the concept of time your mental capacity becomes, if you remove a bullet from a gunshot wound, you have to immediately put the bloody metal remnant in a container that clinks.

    Cheers for that close-up of the glass, Monsieur Besson.

  33. The Original... Paul

    August 2nd, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Mouth – I never got that particular cliche either. Is it the reverse serial-killer thing? Like, serial killers have to keep “trophies” from their victims out of some twisted pride taken in what they’re doing, so victims of gunshot wounds keep the bullets pulled out of them as “trophies” for similar reasons – survivor’s pride, if there is such a thing? I have only limited experience in this area: I got shot in the arse-cheek with an air rifle once (don’t ask), but I didn’t keep the pellet.

    If you ever took a flesh-wound, from a manic-obsessive Katherine Bigelow fan or somebody, would you keep the bullet that caused it?

  34. Much like Lucy, I decline to express strong emotion, let pain overcome me, or revel in sentimentality, and I hate trophies and parting gifts (like those group-photos & plaques & decorative knives one gets from a military unit on his last day before moving to a new assignment), so no I would not care about keeping the bullet.

    But like most normal American men I have often dreamed about being shot in the shoulder by Lee Van Cleef in the desert and then having Clint Eastwood tend to my hemorrhaging arm by pouring a few ounces of whiskey on it and handing me a stick to bite down on while he prods the wound but then I say “Fuck a stick” and I start chugging the whiskey and then the crude field first aid operation would be done and I would demand that Clint hold the metal chunk up at eye level in his tweezers for a second and then drop the bullet in a nearby metal bowl or ashtray or something.

  35. “Some people are complaining about the fact that the science behind your film — the whole idea that humans only use 10 percent of their brains — is not true. What’s your response to that?

    It’s totally not true. Do they think that I don’t know this? I work on this thing for nine years and they think that I don’t know it’s not true? Of course I know it’s not true! . . . 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.]”

    http://www.vulture.com/2014/07/luc-besson-director-lucy-chat.html

  36. The 10% shit don’t bother me. Its one of those urban legends that just REFUSES to die. Same with that tongue chart detailing your “taste buds” we learned in school that is complete scientific bunk.

    Or put it another way, its like the junk sci-fi in say STAR WARS. Spaceships wouldn’t have dogfights in outer space. Does that stop you from enjoying SW? No.

  37. I liked the Family. Most of the critics thought the performances were strong, and just hated that the direction was choppy in that Besson couldn’t pick a tone, but I thought that was interesting, because it really highlighted how each member of the family dealt with their situation in their own way. Plus I’m a sucker for family dynamics. And then there was a bunch of carnage and some explosions. And what was previously a fracturing family that had become more a group of individuals all came together to strive to survive. Enjoyable.

    I liked this one too, despite the weirdness. I was expecting more of an action movie and less of an existential mind trip, but I agree that it was well-paced and that I was entertained throughout. And that Scarlett Johansson is god now. Maybe I should get back into organized religion if that’s the case.

  38. KaeptnKrautsalat

    August 8th, 2014 at 8:11 am

    I also liked THE FAMILY and was surprised by the critical reaction to its uneven tone, because it was pretty similar to the odd use of humor in some of Besson’s older films like LEON or NIKITA.

  39. I also liked THE FAMILY, even though it was ultimately forgettable. I think the lack of visual style probably came down to a short shooting schedule (De Niro does not seem like the kind of guy who likes devoting a lot of time to the movies he’s in these days), so Besson chose to focus on the biggest thing that production had going for it: its cast. He chose a style that allowed for fewer directorial flourishes but more room for the actors to breathe. It makes the movie play more like a straight comedy than Besson’s other work but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would have liked a bit more (and crazier) action but that’s not where the movie’s strengths lay.

  40. He may have given the actors room to breathe, but Michelle Pfeiffer’s the only one who takes advantage of it – she’s this nervy, gutsy ball of neurotic energy who lights the screen up whenever she has the frame. She’s one of the great American actors, and De Niro & TLJ’s phoned in perfs look even worse by contrast.

    The only part of THE FAMILY I found interesting – because the gags were all stale and the action was shit – was the Goodfellas screening. I always thought mid-late 80s Scorsese took a little bit from the cinema du look guys, who probably took something from him too, and now here’s Besson completing the circle.

    I really hate this pandering, paternalistic strain in the stuff Besson’s written recently. His THREE DAYS TO KILL (not a bad action flick), which he merely wrote and produced, has a sadistic pig for a protagonist much like De Niro in THE FAMILY, and he has scenes of tenderness with his daughter that are meant to soften our opinion of him – but somehow the contrast just makes him even more appalling. Instead of portraying complicated men capable of both brutality and sensitivity, it feels like he is just flippantly plopping down scenes of violence for a kick, and then adding in sentimentality to modulate the audience’s sympathy. And there’s all these sops to American chauvinism in there too that are just ugly. Besson has become a craven panderer, in my view.

  41. Michelle Pfeiffer never gets her just due. She even made what little I saw of DARK SHADOWS tolerable. I always wished she got that Julia Roberts career back in the day.

  42. Michelle Pfeiffer admittedly stole the show for me as well.

  43. Eva Green wasn’t bad as well.

  44. In my opinion every movie takes place in a fictional reality unique to that particular film, and in LUCY’s reality the 10% thing is actual, not pseudo, science.

    People still doubt Johannson’s acting chops? After Don Jon, Under the Skin, and The Winter Soldier? You guys are crazy. Unrelatedly (SPOILERS for Under the Skin and Her) it’s pretty crazy that she keeps playing these beings that transcend reality.

    I liked the movie but I thought it needed more tricks up its sleeve. When she confronts the scientists towards the end and they want her to show her some proof of concept, and she reads one of their minds. Okay but she could do that back when she was at 30% or whatever. Show us something new. But I thought in general it was a fun bit of filmic anarchy and Min Sik and Johannson were terrific.

  45. W/R/T The Family, I don’t for the life of me understand the rancor the film receives. And not one mention in this thread of Shalhoub’s hilarious turn as an ultravillain even among the supporters!

  46. This was so much batshit fun. My favourite movie so far in 2014.

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