Home > Reviews > LUCY – Éric Serra

LUCY – Éric Serra

lucyOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Lucy is a high-concept sci-fi action movie directed by Luc Besson and starring Scarlet Johansson in the eponymous role as a young woman who is tricked into being a mule for a Korean crime syndicate, carrying a highly valuable synthetic super-drug called CPH4 that can increase the user’s brain function capacity, and which has been sewn into a pouch in her abdomen. When the pouch begins to leak and the drug begins to enter Lucy’s bloodstream, she begins to manifest increasingly developed levels of consciousness and physical prowess: absorbing information instantaneously, telekinesis, mental time travel, and imperviousness to pain. So begins a race against time as Lucy tries to understand and control her new abilities, while simultaneously avoiding the drug lord’s private army, who have been charged with capturing Lucy and returning the drug to its intended recipient. The film also stars Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked and Choi-Min Sik, and has an original score by French composer Éric Serra.

Éric Serra and Luc Besson have been working together for over 30 years, having collaborated on such memorable projects as Subway (1985), The Big Blue (1988), La Femme Nikita (1990), Léon (1994), The Fifth Element (1997) and The Messenger (1999). Originally a guitarist and songwriter, Serra has always been something of a progressive composer, making use of synthesizers and electronic sound effects well before it was cool to do so, and taking the road less traveled when he could: he was the man who brought a decidedly avant-garde sound to the James Bond series in GoldenEye, after all.

To illustrate the high-technology, futuristic world the film inhabits, Serra’s score for Lucy is similarly futuristic, a synthetic-orchestral hybrid that occasionally veers off into some of the harshest, most aggressive pure electronica that I have heard in a mainstream movie for quite some time. This isn’t the type of acoustic-electronic combo score that the Remote Control boys have been writing of late, though, and it’s not even in the sonic world of the John Powell Bourne scores either; Lucy seems much edgier, much more authentic, much more uncompromising than those scores, and as such it is likely to be significantly more difficult for some listeners to connect with it on an emotional level.

When the orchestra is present, the score comes up with some decent sounds and textures, especially during the engaging, more traditionally symphonic finale. After a few early snippets – the second half of “Inner Fireworks”, the introspective “I Feel Everything”, the violin solo in “Disintegration” – cues like the soaring “Flicking Through Time”, the powerful brass-heavy pair “Moonbirth” and “Origin of the World” have a real epic quality to them, while the solo female vocalist which is introduced into the score in “Melt into Matter” marks it as the emotional high point of the score.

In addition, some of the orchestrations and instrumental touches Serra employs are unusual and creative – the didgeridoo in “Mr. Wang’s Bloody Suite” and “Inner Fireworks”, the out-of-left-field saxophone Euro-jazz of “All We Have Done With It”, and the acoustic guitars of “Choose to Reproduce” among them.

However, these cues are the exception rather than the rule, and much of the rest of the score combines rhythmic electronic patterns with some gritty industrial sound design, as well as some elements of the in-vogue EDM. The first and last cues, “First Cells” and “I Am Everywhere”, both feature the same steady metronomic core, the same heartbeat pulse, and the same sparse orchestration, while later cues such as “Pleasant Drive in Paris” and “Sixty Percent Mess”, despite being short in length, are brutal and bold, and pull no punches in presenting the harshest electronic rhythms and textures they can. Some of the cues also feature unusual electronic looping effects, sort of similar to the work Olivier Derivière did on the video game score Remember Me last year, albeit without the same level of ingenuity and panache: it’s especially noticeable in pieces like “Crossing the Goon Sea” .

Unfortunately, the one thing Lucy is not is especially memorable. The orchestral parts are appropriate, but never really stand out from the myriad of other appropriate orchestral parts in other, similar scores. The electronic elements, despite being abrasively authentic, have been done better elsewhere, and don’t break any new ground. There’s no real recurring thematic content beyond the ticking of the first and last cues, and there’s no identity for Lucy herself, which is the most curious thing of all: Luc Besson is so enamored with strong female characters, from Anne Parillaud’s La Femme Nikita to Natalie Portman’s Mathilda in Léon and Milla Jovovich’s Leeloo in The Fifth Element, that one would expect the conceptual centerpiece of his story to be accompanied by the musical centerpiece of the film’s score, but this is not the case. Instead, Lucy is a score which skirts around the edges, presenting some clever textures and orchestral flourishes, but little else. I’m not saying that Éric Serra only used 10% of his musical talent on this score, in the way that this film clams most of the world’s population only uses 10% of their brains, but you can perhaps see a parallel.

Buy the Lucy soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Sister Rust (written and performed by Damon Albarn) (3:24)
  • First Cells (1:00)
  • Mr. Wang’s Bloody Suite, Pt. 1-4 (4:37)
  • Mr. Wang’s Bloody Suite, Pt. 5-7 (2:56)
  • All We Have Done With It (1:29)
  • Choose to Reproduce (0:38)
  • Inner Fireworks (2:32)
  • Lucy is Going Out, Pt. 1 (1:35)
  • Lucy is Going Out, Pt. 2 (1:37)
  • Tingjhou Hospital (1:56)
  • I Feel Everything (2:09)
  • Mass No.19 in D Minor, K.626: Requiem Introitus, Requiem Aeternam (written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Swedish Radio Choir and the Stockholm Chamber Choir with Patrizia Pace, Waltraud Meier, Frank Lopardo and James Morris) (5:19)
  • Thank You For Sharing (1:31)
  • Taipei Airport (0:39)
  • Lucy and the Sniffer Dog (1:04)
  • Disintegration (2:43)
  • Green Beams (1:34)
  • Single Barrel (Sling the Decks) (written by Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan, performed by The Crystal Method) (4:24)
  • Pleasant Drive in Paris (0:35)
  • Sixty Percent Mess (0:38)
  • Crossing the Goon Sea (1:50)
  • GPS Control (0:49)
  • Goons and Guards (0:48)
  • Time is Unity (1:38)
  • Blue Injection (2:42)
  • Melt Into Matter (3:30)
  • Flicking Through Time (2:00)
  • Lucy and Lucy (0:31)
  • Moonbirth (0:45)
  • Origin of the World (2:26)
  • Where Is Lucy? (0:49)
  • I Am Everywhere (2:20)

Running Time: 62 minutes 48 seconds

Back Lot Music (2014)

Music composed by Éric Serra. Conducted by Geoff Alexander. Orchestrations by Geoff Alexander and Éric Serra. Recorded and mixed by Nicolas Duport and Didier Lozahic. Edited by Samuel Potin. Album produced by Éric Serra.

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