"Lucy" will be discussed soon on the podcast but at least one member of Scarjo-loving TFE refuses to see it. Here's Matthew Eng to tell you why. - Editor
I don't care if Lucy is every bit the gloriously silly and shamelessly outré action fireworks show that gung-ho summer audiences have made into a "surprise hit." I care even less that Luc Besson has managed to curb his own gonzo cheese-fest tendencies to a running time of less than 90 minutes, compared to the ceaselessly spinning tops and chiseled self-mythologizing of every Christopher Nolan movie post-Insomnia. And, though it's been tempting, I finally don't care that Besson and Co. have seemingly put the newly-rejuvenated Scarlett Johansson (so good in Under the Skin; so great in Don Jon) on a pedestal of full-out Film Goddess proportions, in a genre where movies in which women are front and center and not merely killjoy bystanders or fatal love objects is an all too well-known rarity.
That last fact has been my greatest lure towards shilling out for Lucy (aka Scarlett), but I refuse to believe that we should have to tolerate, much less applaud, any old action movie, no matter how dire the prospects, because some Hollywood bigwig has had the amazing insight to put a more-than-deserving actress at the forefront. I, too, was giddy about Angelina Jolie snatching Salt right out of Tom Cruise's hands, until I actually sat down and watched the thing, only to realize what a sorry, secondhand vehicle Jolie was actually driving. If you really want to watch a fully-realized femme figure take names and kick ass with the full support (and smarts) of the filmmakers behind her, then by all means rent/stream/buy the Alien series or the Kill Bills or the Terminators, or, for something less familiar, take a gander at Kathryn Bigelow's exquisite Strange Days, in which a bravura Angela Bassett is every bit the strong and stalwart action heroine she needs to be, while also, you know, playing a recognizable human being.
I've translated Lucy for you. did this Hollywood production really not have any money to pay Chinese ppl to proofread pic.twitter.com/malJ9AR6DH— rena (@rena_linn) July 30, 2014
Yep, that's right. As a shackled ScarJo eyes one in a seemingly endless supply of her movie's menacing Asian henchmen and soon-to-be blood-splattered victims, she is literally sitting in a torture chamber whose walls have been graffitied with the Chinese words for "APPLE", "ORANGE", and "GRAPE".
The idiocy of the production allowing this to fly is enough to be outraged by, but then I remember that moment in the trailer where ScarJo shoots an Asian cabbie point-blank for not speaking English, only to turn the gun on a fellow Asian cab driver, and ask him the same question, to which he hilariously agrees with all the wide-eyed, rapid head-nodding, stooge-like energy that he's been directed to emulate, and surely not for the last time. There's more where that came from, as the movie's trailer is quick to prove and which a number of excellent think pieces have admirably taken it to task for.
I am so, so tired of anonymous Asian baddies. I am tired of mainstream filmmakers who clearly see Asian men and think to themselves, "Oh, there's a filthy drug lord! Or a torturous Triad member! Or a mercenary with maximum bloodlust!" I am tired of Hollywood who don't merely turn a blind eye to this but applaud it, and it's not just the suits but its most lauded (and it should be added in this case, politically active) stars, who should frankly know better.
I'm even more tired of the audience members who are quick to interject the irresponsible plea, "Oh, come on, it's just a movie! Just enjoy it!" But it's not. It's an entire way of seeing certain people, of using them for the sake of entertainment, while embedding this false and infuriating notion of who we are and what we do into the minds of moviegoers for whom Asian men look like nothing more than grisly, growling, gun-toting characters in this month's pop-action extravaganza, meant to be hated, meant to be discarded. These aren't just characters. And it's still never just a movie.