Luc Besson’s sci-fi thriller Lucy explores the idea of the full potential of the human brain. Using a wacky cocktail of scientific theory and action, Lucy excites as well as intrigues.
Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to the weird and wonderful characters, recently playing a mysterious alien woman (Under the Skin), a machine dating Joaquin Phoenix (Her) and a Russian assassin (Avengers/Captain America/Iron Man). So ultimately she should have no problem playing an American student on her travels in Taiwan, mixing with the wrong people, but after being kidnapped by some Korean gangsters, she is forced to become a drugs mule amongst others who have suffered a similar fate. She is to smuggle bags of a new crystallised drug called CPH4 that has been surgically implanted into her stomach. When one thug gives her a beating, one of the bags inside of her bursts and the drug immediately disperses into her blood stream, enhancing her intelligence, speed, pain threshold and everything else needed to become some form of super human.
Meanwhile, professor Morgan Freeman is investigating the usage of the human brain and what possibilities lie in store were we to ever exceed the 10% we use. With her brain usage continuing to grow, Lucy discovers and goes in search of the professor in order to learn more about her fate as well as unleashing her knowledge on him. This includes tracking down more CPH4 from her fellow drug mules (who due to her immense intelligence don’t take long to find), in order to reach 100% brain usage and God like status. But with the angry Koreans out to get their product back, there are a number of obstacles to overcome before Lucy and the professor get what they seek.
Besson must be complimented on the visual merits of the film. The first half an hour is a contrast between Lucy’s kidnapping and her drug hit and the professor giving a lecture of the brain usage, tied in with some fast paced real life sequences of life and nature. The shots of the CPH4 flowing through her blood stream are also visually intriguing, but the scene as she reaches 99% usage is perhaps the strongest the film has to offer.
Where Lucy is let down is in some of the unbelievable (not in a good way) action sequences including the car chase, which in some circumstances beg the question: was that really necessary? Despite this minor setback, however, credit must go to Besson for making such a fascinating idea look visually remarkable on the big screen. Being Besson, much of the film is based on Paris but given some of the set pieces around the city, you can’t blame him.
Lucy is by no means a masterpiece but the ideology and premise behind the film along with the delivery are certainly amiable at the very least. Strong performances up front by Johansson as the super human Lucy and Freeman as the startled professor, also do the film just cause. In places it’s weird and wacky beyond belief but nevertheless, Lucy will certainly get your mind going…but only at 10%.