Lucy. Movie trailers can be deceiving. In this case, they sold it as a pretty yawner-looking action movie, but the story is delivered with more spirit and weirdness than you’d expect. There’s this really wonderful ongoing pattern of spliced-in nature footage as counterpoint to the story. A few moments are delightfully heightened (e.g. opening the briefcase), or thoughtfully disorienting (not translating other languages). Most of that is early on, though, and it unfortunately falls back on serviceable scifi/action pastiche, including plenty of Matrix-y philosophy talk. What really helps the early going is that Johansson is more fun to watch. It’s too bad that our hero basically turns into robot, loses affect. There’s an ongoing theme of conquering time via reproduction/evolution, and how knowledge transforms. Notice how they smuggle drugs in their stomach (womb). Also makes me think of study drugs, nootropics, etc. Also reminded me of Ted Chiang’s story Understand in his (really really good) collection Stories of Your Life. So maybe the overall problem here is that it was too good too soon, and once you’ve got the premise up and running, it’s hard to keep it weird. I’d place The Fifth Element ahead of this in my Luc Besson power rankings.

Taken 2

Taken 2. I like the flip-flop here, where Neeson has to rely on his daughter for a bit. Love the absurdly nonchalant use of grenades. Neeson is the most nightmarish backseat driver you could ever imagine. Like The Equalizer, he gives the final bad guy a chance to make the right decision, but… people never learn. Not sure what’s up with the images here, like how the colors were pushed and processed into these weird greenish-yellow skin tones. Tick of the Clock is one of the best things to happen to action movies (Cf.). More of the same ain’t bad, but Taken is better.