A few days ago, I got a text message from someone that contained only three words:
One word: Lucy.
Naturally, I asked what he was talking about. I got one word:
I found a trailer for an upcoming action film directed by Luc Besson and starring Scarlett Johansson (who has way too many extra letters in her name which I propose be converted to middle initials: Scarlet T. S. Johanson) about a woman who gets used as a coke mule, only to find said coke is a blue liquid that increases your mental capacity, granting her superhuman powers which seem to include everything but the wall-repair-vision from Superman IV.
Cards on the table: I like Luc Besson's work. I loved The Fifth Element as well as The Professional, and while The Messenger has its problems, it's not without its moments, either. That said, I don't think this is going to be any good. Sure, it's not fair to write off a film based entirely on a simple trailer, but when someone punches me in the face, I'm not likely to stick around and see if they'll say they're sorry and offer me a Pepsi, bag of Doritos, and a friendly game of Altered Beast to make up for it. The punch, in this case, is metaphorical, and instead of my face, it's my intellect. Sure, action movies by definition aren't meant to be works of cerebral transcendence, but when they try to be so, and they don't bring their A-game, it's a train wreck. I call these types of films Imperial Failures, meaning they're one type of movie that tries to be another, but has absolutely nothing to bring to the table, a la The Emperor's New Clothes.
Lucy seems to want to be an action film with a brain by trying to rationalize ScarJo's control over time and space as the direct result of using more than 10% of her brain. Wanted, similarly, tried to be The Matrix by explaining bullet-time and balletic action choreography and gun-kata as the result of an accelerated heart rate. For example, someone who has never held a gun before in his life is suddenly able to shoot the wings off a pair of houseflies entirely by virtue of time slowing for a few seconds. Lucy attempts the same leap of faith by having ScarJo become able to render an entire room of hired goons unconscious with a wave of her hand by virtue of a few more synapses in her brain firing at once.
That earlier example of Wanted's housefly dismemberment is only scratching the surface of that abomination's downright condescending levels of stupidity-in-denial, most of which I tackled in an earlier post. In short, it's not at all beneath me to shut my brain off and enjoy a good thrill ride, but movies like Wanted refuse to let me by not only trying to answer a question I barely cared to ask, but giving me an answer so astonishingly stupid as to not only un-suspend my disbelief, but insult my intelligence as well.
Here's a thought experiment. In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, ordinary people seem able to defy gravity, skip along bodies of water like smooth stones, traverse widely-spaced rooftops as easily as a stroll in the park, and pull off long-winded acrobatic routines without breaking a sweat. All this is on display for us with absolutely no explanation given beyond an implied notion of, "They're just that good." Now, imagine that partway through the film, Chow Yun-Fat stops in front of the camera, looks into it, and breaks the fourth wall to ask, "Would you like to know how we're able to do all this?" and before the audience can finish their collective shrug, he lifts up his robes and shows off a small jewel which he explains allows them to defy gravity and dilate time.
Why do people dig The Force but hate midichlorians?
Lesson over, Daniel-san.