He SAID: Lucy is a Mind Trip with no Luggage

Christopher M. Enis

Let’s just dive right in.lucyposter

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a hard partying college student (Really? Is Johansson still able to pull off college student? Maybe she’s a graduate student?). She’s getting her education, and (mostly) her party on in Taipei.  Not so shockingly, this party girl has suck-tastic taste in men.  Her latest hook-up, Richard, turns out to be the absolute worst.  Before you can say, “Girl, he ain’t no good”, Lucy is caught up in some hot mess with some “Very Bad Men” led by someone called Mr. Jang.

Jang ends Lucy’s party days and starts her on new “career” as a drug mule by placing a packet of drugs placed in her “lower tummy” (yes, he really said that).  When the packet starts leaking and the drugs leech into Lucy’s system (what, you didn’t see that coming?)… instead of over-dosing her, the drugs super-charge her brain.  She eventually gains control of 100% of her brain – versus the 10% that we stereotypically use. Most thinking people know the 10% rule is a bunch of nonsense, but when did ‘facts’ ever get in the way of making a movie?

Moving on…

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As her control of her mind increases, Lucy becomes more and more powerful. She gains the ability to control her body, she can instantly diagnose people by touch, work two laptops at the same time… you get the idea. Her new brain power also turns her into a killing machine. Now before you start expecting all Hell to break loose, stay with me.

Lucy does bust out some whoop ass, for this is a Luc Besson movie after all. With  Besson, the Femme Fatale is oft some badass on a mission of some sort, and there’s all manner of creative violence and lots of gunplay (see: Nikita and The Fifth Element).
 But this time, Besson tears up his usual blueprint and comes up with a different game-plan. It’s a mashup of everything from National Geographic (and a cell-division opening that screams Discovery channel), plus Cosmos, the History Channel, and some sort of homage (spoof?) to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Lucy makes the big leap when she gains use of 40% of her brain (we know this because the movie keeps score for us)… and violence becomes less about revenge and more about the experience. Lucy kicks such silly things like human emotions to the curb in the process. And suddenly we’re tripping through time and space on an office chair (don’t ask). If you’re thinking that this is a ‘WTF am I watching here’ moment… you’re not alone.
lucy5Lucy isn’t perfect, but with her increasing brain access, she’s practically omnipotent. So why, pray tell, does she still have to rely on men (Morgan Freeman and Amr Waked)? Waked is the closest thing to a love interest in the movie (but… not), and I just don’t understand what purpose they served for such a powerful character. Maybe it’s not for me to know. I nearly started a war on Twitter with just this simple question.

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Johansson has been on a major roll in the last year or so… from going big as Marvel’s Black Widow to dialing it back as the ‘voice in the machine’ in Her, and even further back in Under The Skin. Lucy, it seems, is a mashup of all three characters. Johannson delivers a wining performance, even when she’s required to be nearly robotic.  There’s an interesting scene in Lucy’s early stages of brain evolution, where she remembers every single moment of her life. She calls her mother to tearfully recall that she can “remember the taste of your milk.”  Call me gross if you want but that (unexpectedly) got me right in the feels.
Overall I like Lucy, although likely for none of the reasons that the creators intended.
RATING: Matinee
*Lucy obliterated the competition (Hercules) in her opening weekend, taking in $43,899,340.
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