Lucy (2014) Directed by Luc Besson. Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, & Min-sik Choi . IMDB says: “A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.”
Lucy tells the story of a woman who is drugged with a synthetic compound that mimics the hormone that pregnant woman create to help the fetus form. This drug enters her bloodstream and allows her to slowly use more than 10% of her brain at once. The writer/director has said that he knows the “we only use 10% of our brains” is a myth, but was just using that as a basis for the story. Since I knew the writing was essentially for fun, I thought this still could have resulted in a nice science fiction movie, but the amount of power Lucy received was laughably limitless.
As soon as the drug enters her bloodstream she becomes cold and calculated, like a robot trying to simulate human emotion. Scarlett Johansson plays the role well both before and after the drug, but the direction of the character seemed misguided. It made the movie seem like it was more of a superhero movie than a science fiction film. Even though they spend a lot of time in the beginning of the film explaining what full usage of a person’s mind could mean for them, they write Lucy as being able to do anything imaginable.
The movie takes the time to detail what all of this extra mind power could do, but as Lucy climbs to 100% brain usage she can do things that human brains could never reasonably do. She is able to look into someone else’s memory, which isn’t too far-fetched, but then she was also able to see through the eyes of an entirely different person. She is able to increase her hearing and search through cell phone signals like she is navigating a smartphone screen. There were a lot of scenes where I was wondering how a person would ever be capable doing what Lucy was that I found myself constantly being taken out of the movie.
The film is more about trying to create scenes to make the audience think about how cool the movie is. Everything is overstylized to the point that it seems overdone. It was too much even for a film that seems like it was originally made to be fun. And despite the movie focusing so much on its visual appeal, the CGI stood out to be very poor. It all resulted in a film that had didn’t have much to fully enjoy.
Lucy begins with a narrated look at the beginning of all life, with a microscope lens’s view of cells dividing, discussing what humans are capable of and how they use that potential. It immediately drives home the point that you’re not about to see a strictly action sci-fi popcorn movie but one with big ideas to explore.
The struggle with Lucy is that Luc Besson is attempting to balance both elements within one story and hardly succeeding to do it well. It’s got the air of a thinking man’s movie, but you actually have to think very little in order to enjoy it. Pick one element apart and the whole thing might collapse into ridiculous nonsense. The good thing is, Lucy is so fast paced that if you can just go along with wherever the wacky premise takes you, it can be fun and interesting enough for you to not overthink it too much.
I liked this movie a bit more than Rob, just for that reason. I wasn’t focusing too much on the realm of possibility and just looked at it as Besson trying to throw any idea he had to screen. If you look at the character of Lucy as a straight up mutant, instead of a person with super high brain functioning it’s much easier to enjoy. There’s some fun to be had with all the wacky stuff she’s able to do, and at least a few well done action scenes. Also, I always welcome a bit of Choi Min-shik, even if he doesn’t get much of a chance to ham it up as the villain.
I appreciate the ambition here, but it’s obvious that it’s not quite working and it can’t be taken seriously despite how darn important the message is supposed to feel by the end. There was enough for me to enjoy and a few scenes where I was able to marvel at some original visuals, but overall this is not nearly as good as it could have been.