Review: 2 Stars
A young woman (Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)) gets trapped into making a delivery by her boyfriend. The delivery goes bad and she ends up being used as a drug mule. The drug in question is a synthetic version of what a mother gives a fetus at a very early stage of development to spur it. The drug is surgically inserted into Lucy’s body. She is attacked and is kicked in her stomach, where the incision was made, unleashing all of the drug into her body. She gains an extremely enhanced understanding of the world and gains super intellectual powers. As she consumes more of it, she nears the point in which all 100% of her cognitive abilities are in use, which gain her an almost godlike existence. All the while, the gangsters that originally made her the drug mule are trying to track her down to reclaim the drugs.
To start with the good, the movie is visually stunning. Having said that though, I don’t remember seeing anything that wasn’t already in the Matrix over a decade earlier (or we can say it in an even more mean manner and say a century earlier). At some level the conceit is the same. Lucy, in her most advanced states, is essentially above reality. She can manipulate it at will. She can win fights without fighting. She can see events without actually having seen them. You know, kind of like Neo.
The bad has to do with the plot. The premise rests on the fact that only ten percent of our brain is ever in use. This was a theory that has been around for a while, but has pretty much been demolished ever since the development of brain imaging. It’s pretty clear that all of our brain capacity is used, and is actually in use pretty much constantly.
I could maybe have suspended reality a bit on that point, but with Morgan Freeman, playing the role of philosopher / scientist Dr Norman, using his voice of God credibility to spend a significant amount of screen time pontificating upon the fact was pretty ridiculous.
I might have been OK if they’d stopped her development in the early stages. At least then, there could have been some kind of ultra genius fish out of water story (think Flowers for Algernon, John Travolta in Phenomenon, or even Jeremy Renner in the hilariously bad The Bourne Legacy (“he’s going to run out of brain!”)). But no, Luc Besson had to keep kicking it up a notch as Lucy ingests more and more of the drug.
By the end of the movie, she has time traveled, stopping at various moments, including apparently the original Lucy (as in the first hominid) and actually doing some kind of Michelangelo Sistine Chapel finger touch with her. Does that affect the original Lucy? Does this act actually fire some kind of synapse in Lucy’s brain that leads her to become the founding mother of the human race? If so, then on top of all of the other silliness that’s in this movie, Besson has also introduced a time travel paradox.
By the end, Lucy (now I’m back talking about the present Lucy) has essentially become one with the cosmos and one of her last material acts was leaving behind what appears to be a USB memory stick containing all of the knowledge that she’s discovered.
I have to give it credit. It’s not the normal everyday kind of movie that is mindlessly put out. It was fast paced and I was entertained, albeit in a largely bemused manner. I just couldn’t get past the intellectual / visual pretentious silliness of it all.