Many people thought that Lucy was going to be a direct rip-off of Limitless, another film that involves the concept of unlocking the secrets of the mind. I haven’t seen Limitless, but from what I understand about it, Lucy takes quite a different direction. Whenever I hear arguments about a movie “ripping off” an earlier film, I notice that the people speaking about the similarities between the two flicks don’t understand the purpose and message of each individual work. There are only a few cases in which I find these arguments valid, and even then there are places where they fall through. With that in mind, let’s evaluate Lucy.
This movie is based on the idea that humans only use 10% of their brain, an old wives’ tale that has long been disproven, but I digress. Lucy, played by Scarlett Johansen, is a young lady who has been forced to work as a drug mule for the mob. She is surgically implanted with a package containing a new drug which leaks in transit, allowing the substance into into our heroine’s bloodstream. This allows Lucy to unlock parts of her brain that she has never had access to before, enabling her to peer into the minds and bodies of others and access electronics worldwide. Despite these newfound abilities, however, the drug starts taking its toll on her, and unless she takes action to prevent the effects from spreading, her body will literally tear itself apart. Lucy contacts Professor Norman, played by Morgan Freeman, an expert on the capacity of the human brain who Lucy believes will be able to help her survive. Meanwhile, the mob chases after Lucy for their lost product, and a cat-and-heavily-armed-mouse game begins.
I am very conflicted about Lucy because parts of the movie seemed so smart while others were completely ridiculous. Scarlett Johansen does a great job as the title character, even though her transition from a metropolitan young woman to a cold, calculating sociopath is a bit sudden. Despite the fact that the film is based on an urban legend, there are several intelligent dialogues between Johansen and Freeman’s characters, some of which even made me think about the way that we perceive time and space. In this sense, I felt that the movie could be beneficial. I actually used my brain a few times while watching this film, something that is a nice surprise in the summer movie season. I’m sure that some of the topics brought up were ridiculous psuedoscience, but I’d take that over the braindead scripts from Transformers 4 and The Purge: Anarchy any day.
It is for this reason that I was so upset by some of the other content in the movie. I already had to check my brain at the door with the 10% misnomer, which made me feel that I couldn’t trust any other “fact” presented in the film. I understand that this is a science fiction adventure, but I think that believability should still play some role in the movie. The way that the drug is killing Lucy seems like a plot point thrown in only to add some sense of urgency to the story, something that was needed since the main character is able to toss her opponents around like ragdolls. Half of the ideas presented seem creative while the other half seem idiotic. I appreciated the former, but I feel that this film could have been so much more if just a little bit more effort was put into the plot.
The direction and editing of this movie seemed… risky. Some parts worked wonderfully. All of the action scenes were very stylishly executed, and the CGI, as expected, was superb. However, I was a little bit confused as to some of the choices made throughout the film. For example, in the first twenty minutes of the movie, there are scenes spliced in of wild animals hunting and fornicating that had almost nothing to do with the rest of the film, and one of these sequences felt like I was just watching a Discovery Channel special. The film’s ending was a bit random and confusing, as well, although this may have been intentional to leave some things open to interpretation. There were many impressive points and many strange choices made. I definitely appreciate seeing filmmakers take some risks, but some of the things on display here just seemed like directorial fluff.
The plot, just like the “science” in the film, was a mixed bag. While I thought that Lucy was a compelling female take on Dr. Manhatten, some of the character’s choices in the movie were as unbelievable as her condition. The action and dialogue scenes were superb, but there were still many parts of the movie that could have been either left out or replaced with something more pertinent. It was still enjoyable for the most part; I just wish that a bit more care was put into the narrative.
I enjoyed Lucy. It’s a fun summer adventure, and at only one hour and thirty minutes, it didn’t take up too much of my time. It was a little bit too ambitious, but at least it was ambitious at all. Lucy isn’t the best film out right now, but if your friends are itching to see it this weekend, it won’t be the worst use of your cash.