“Lucy” opens in wide release this weekend starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Written and directed by Luc Besson, this sci-fi action thriller isn’t for everyone. The premise, on the surface, is intriguing: What happens when an average person can now use more than 10% of his, or in this case, her, brain capacity? Unfortunately, there’s more to the story. In “Lucy,” a woman is accidentally caught up in a drug smuggling ring, taken captive, and inadvertently uses the drug which allows her to fight back against her captors. Drugs, violence, special effects, and more brutal carnage are a major part of this film therefore making it not suitable or appealing to everyone.
“Lucy” begins at the true beginning; with the explanation of Darwin’s Lucy and evolution. Yes, many refute this as the true beginning and research has shown a skeleton to predate Lucy, but let’s just go with the movie’s beginning, shall we? We fast forward to present day Taiwan where a shady deal is going down and our main character, also named Lucy, is caught up in something she never bargained for. With death surrounding her and her own possible demise, she and several others become pack mules, smuggling a new and potent drug called CPH4, around the world. The drug, through a brutal attack, is released within Lucy’s abdomen where it has been surgically placed and she undergoes significant neural growth. In other words, she out-thinks, out-smarts, and out-maneuvers her captors. Her brain capacity continues to increase, but not without consequences—she cannot live much longer with this constant state of cell development and reproduction. She must pass on her new-found knowledge and place it in the right hands. As she battles her captors, picking them off one by one, she seeks out Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), a neuroscientist who can understand what she can do. It’s a race against time.
“Lucy” shows promise at the start. It’s intense, but volleys successfully back and forth with humor by splicing in nature scenes such as a jaguar finding and killing its prey as the ominous Mr. Jang locks in on his victim, Lucy. It also throws in wonderfully educational information about the superior intellect of the dolphin which is in no doubt due to the writer and director’s passion for marine biology. Unfortunately, quite quickly, this film goes from a promising sci-fi thriller to a gruesomely brutal action flick. As my screening partner stated, “It is like watching kids play one of those gory, killing video games.” There is plenty of gun-fire, car chases with the requisite car crashes, blood-spurting violence, bodies dropping left and right, with surprisingly little use of brain power to out-wit “the bad guys.” (Spoiler Alert) It’s also interesting that Lucy performs a mind-meld sort of maneuver on Mr. Jang, but choses to let him live after killing about 75 people on her way to “visit” him. I guess the movie would have ended too soon had she have decided to use some of those synapses and realize that if she killed him right now, life would be so much easier! Perhaps I use more than 10% of my brain! Nah…
Morgan Freeman is competent in whatever role he chooses and his role in “Lucy” is no different. He is believable as a scientist at the head of his field. Scarlett Johansson plays the lifeless, emotionless, femme fatal which is reminiscent of every other role she has had. Her inability to provide any inflection in her breathy, monotone voice lulls you into boredom which is exactly what the repetitive violence and action scenes do. In fact, the final third of the film is laughably ridiculous and requires complete suspension of any belief system. Amr Waked, from “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” is notable with his performance as Pierre Del Rio, but unfortunately doesn’t have the necessary screen time to elevate this film. The writing after the first 15 minutes is completely predictable with an homage to Terrence Mallick’s “Tree of Life” at the end of the film which just prolonged the much needed end to come.
“Lucy” is a science-fiction, action thriller film that overall is a disappointment. With a promising beginning, it quickly develops into a typical shoot ‘em up, special effects, blood and gore Hollywood film. If you love violent movies that are totally unbelievable or you like video games to come to life on the screen, then see this film. If you don’t like extreme violence, skip this one. The only ‘Lucy’ I want to see is reruns of ‘I LOVE LUCY.’