Christopher Nolan has made me his bitch. Like a brainwashed cult member, I will watch anything he directs, sight unseen. I can’t help it; he’s just that good. (Yes, even Memento.)
Luc Besson isn’t quite that eminent, but I’ll at least consider watching anything he makes or writes. Between The Fifth Element and Taken (not to mention Lockdown and all the others), he’s earned a permanent place in the pantheon of awesome action directors.
Lucy, his latest, is the highest grossing Besson movie yet. This is in many ways unfortunate, because it really isn’t very good.
Do you remember The Fifth Element and all that meaningless banging on about the cosmic importance of love and how she’s never known love and all that? It was meaningless and pretentious pseudo-wisdom, trying to seem deep and insightful without actually being that, but it was such a tiny part of the movie it didn’t matter.
Lucy is about 55% boring, exposition-heavy, pretentious pseudo-intellectual bullshit (“Humans only use 10% of their brains!”), and that’s just too damn much to ignore. More, the entire plot is based on the bullshit, and each plot event is preceded by more bullshit that tries to justify it:
• two minutes of talky bullshit
• something inexplicable happens
• two more minutes of talky bullshit
• something else inexplicable happens
Fine, it’s basically an outré superhero movie, so logic and physics don’t really matter. So let’s compare it to 2000’s X-Men, a similar movie.
X-Men started with one single statement of bullshit: “Mutation.” Blah, blah, blah, it was meaningless pseudo-scientific crap that justified comic book physics. They said it once then they dropped it and cut right to Auschwitz and you never heard about it again.
The existence of mutants and their place in society was a big deal, but the issue of how mutations allowed weather control or regeneration never came up. They just glossed over that part, because there was no good answer. Anything they said would be bullshit.
Lucy spends 55% of its running time immersed in its bullshit, explaining its bullshit, and ultimately trying to justify its bullshit. But all they accomplish is to remind you, every 2.5 seconds: “Hey! This movie is total bullshit!”
The time wasted on this bullshit could have been used for more car chases, gunfights, or cool superpower tricks. Nope. They spent it all on bullshit. And they knew it.
At one point Morgan Freeman is expounding bullshit, literally lecturing the audience, here personified as a lecture hall full of university students and eminent academics. Enraptured university students and eminent academics. (You wish, motherfucker.)
After Freeman’s done, an eager and ingenuous student jumps up and asks him “Hey, Morgan Freeman, is everything your character just said total and absolute bullshit?” And he looks at the young man and says — in his deep, moving, Morgan Freeman voice, straight out of The Shawshank Redemption — “Yup.”
When your second most prominent character is telling the audience that everything in the entire movie is bullshit, and he’s right, you have a problem. And I know what it is.
Luc Besson hates action movies. Oh, he didn’t use to, but he sure does now. He told a reporter so.
[Besson] said that as he grew older he found he felt the need to “mix philosophical content with fun… You know if it’s just an action film, I get bored after an hour even if it’s really well done”.
“Philosophical content” meaning, in this case, “pretentious psuedo-intellectual twaddle.” (In the pursuit of which, he ripped off 2001, opening with a Neanderthal and closing with a trippy lightshow.) He’s bored with action movies, so he’s going to shove this bullshit into Every. Single. One.
Every Luc Besson movie, from now on. Half action, half bullshit, and all annoying. It’s a bleak future to contemplate.
Frankly, Luc Besson is not as great a director as Christopher Nolan. Besson’s movies are not “must see”. And if he continues down this path, they never will be.