Released: July 2014
Director: Luc Besson
Run Time: 90 Minutes
Scarlett Johansson: Lucy
Morgan Freeman: Professor Norman
Min-Sik Choi: Mr. Jang
Amr Waked: Pierre Del Rio
According to certain scientists, humans consciously use between 10-15 percent of their brain capacity at any given time. Others speculate that we only use 5 percent. Nobody really knows how much capacity that we do have. But many agree that there are certain points during our lives that our brain has expanded so we can learn more during a certain period of time. So, what would happen if we were able to access more than 10-15 percent? Again, nobody really knows for sure. But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating. Some speculation seems grounded in reality while other theories are something right out of a sci-fi movie. Oddly enough, this premise serves as the basis for French director Luc Besson’s latest sci-fi action romp: Lucy.
Opening in the front of a building a man is trying to get into a building to see the head of a local mob boss, Mr. Jang. Unable to get through, he gets his girlfriend Lucy to deliver a case to Mr. Jang. As soon as she gets in the door, things get ugly as that man is shot and killed and Lucy is taken to the top of the building with the case, where she is forced to open it. She’s apparently “offered” a job to deliver the contents of the case to some mysterious location. Knocked unconscious, she wakens to find that Mr. Jang had a package of a new drug inserted into her abdomen. When she reaches her destination blindfolded, she’s beaten by a local gang. Unfortunately, that beating ends up making the package leak its contents into Lucy’s body. After experiencing some very unusual side-effects of the drug, she attacks and ends up killing the people who kept her prisoner. It turns out that the drug has enhanced her cerebral capacity to the point where her reflexes are faster and she’s stronger. As time goes on, she begins to feel everything, from the blood in her veins to gravity itself. She contacts famed Professor Norman to find out exactly what’s happening to her and where things go from there.
This is a very interesting film. The trailer you see above would have you believe that Lucy is a balls-to-the-wall action flick. That is surprisingly not the case. Lucy has a lot more substance going for it than the film’s marketing would have you believe. The whole 10-15 percent of the human brain capacity theme isn’t particularly original. I’ve seen it before. The science in Lucy is kind of on shaky ground. Drugs that can enhance the human brain’s capacity? There really is no basis in reality for that. In the context of the film, it kind of works. As for developing super-human powers when the rest of the human brain is unlocked? Again, I doubt it, but there is no evidence suggesting that it couldn’t happen either. It’s mostly folklore at this point. For the sake of the film, let’s leave reality at the door, since we are here to see Johansson kick some serious butt. The marketing for Lucy is pretty deceptive. Why? While Lucy definitely holds her own against the criminal underground with guns and stuff, when she’s actively using her new-found power, she really doesn’t rely on guns. The scenes with her shooting people are actually kept to a minimum. When you see her actively using her powers, it is spectacular, especially later on in the movie. Luc Besson gave us the incredible La Femme Nikita, The Professional, and The Fifth Element. He certainly knows his way around an action film, and crafts some pretty thrilling stuff. There’s a car chase that has you gripping the edge of your seat. When she unleashes her power on the Asian mob that’s after her, people get thrown around like rag dolls. The visuals are absolutely stunning, especially near the end of the film. I won’t spoil it, but it’s wild. It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, but considering the amount of junk science used in the film, I can forgive it, because it’s spectacular. There are a lot of spectacular visuals in this movie, from when the drug first leaks into Lucy’s body to her being able to see radio waves. The visual effects are extremely well done.
Fresh off of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Scarlett Johansson proves that she can handle action just as well as any male actor and look good doing it. I’ve heard of complaints about Scarlett’s performance in Lucy saying it’s wooden most of the time. Towards the beginning of the film, that certainly isn’t the case. Her performance changes as her character ends up losing her ability to feel emotion because of how she’s evolving. Scarlett Johansson is a fine actress and I thought she did a fantastic job here. Morgan Free is….well, Morgan Freeman. He’s one of the finest actors of his generation and gives Lucy more credibility than it would’ve had if he wasn’t cast. Luc Besson, obviously being French, uses a lot of foreign in actors in his movies. But he has a particularly good eye for solid performers. Min-Sik Choi plays the film’s villain, Mr. Jang, who is a real scumbag. Choi clearly knows how to play a villain and does a great job here. Amr Waked plays the cop, Pierre Del Rio, who seems to be both attracted to Lucy and afraid of her as well. This is the first movie I’ve seen Amr in, and he doesn’t do too bad of a job.
All that being said, Lucy definitely has some rough spots. The main real issue that some people have a problem with is the movie’s science about the human brain. I get it, for all we know about the human brain, we know fairly little about how a lot of it actually works. Lucy tries to show us the potential for the human brain, even if it’s not based on scientific truth. While the movie is 90 minutes long, the pieces between action scenes seem a little long. Also, the trailer is another example of bad marketing. As I stated above, the trailer has us believing that Scarlett Johansson plays this unstoppable blonde bombshell, when in fact the character isn’t actually looking for revenge. People expecting another superhero movie aren’t actually getting one. So, just be sure to temper your expectations. This is a surprisingly smart little action flick that gets more flack than it deserves. It certainly isn’t perfect, but the visuals along with action, really help propel this movie along at a mostly brisk pace. This one gets an 8.5/10.