Sunday, July 27, 2014


LUCY - Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, directed by Luc Besson (89 min.)

Humans only access about 15% of our brain's capacity on average, so naturally the idea of using more is an interesting idea for science fiction, or in this case, action.  Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro starred in Limitless a few years back, where Cooper's character took a drug which opened up more avenues of his cerebellum and allowed him to finish novels, dominate the stock market, and become rich and powerful.  It was a slight film, but entertaining and edgy in its execution.  Which brings me to Lucy, another "what if" film about the human brain.  Only this movie doesn't much care about any philosophical implications or logical steps when dealing with a person whose brain suddenly increases to 100% capacity; we're here for the action.

Scarlett Johansson gives it her all in the title character, a ditzy American partying in Taiwan with a shady cowboy.  When that shady cowboy handcuffs a briefcase to her hand and forces her to deliver the case to some Asian gangsters in a hotel, you know things aren't going to go well for her in the long run.  The gang is led by Mr. Jang, played by Min-sik Choi, the talented Korean actor made famous in Oldboy.  Jang is evil and all those sorts of things in a very one-dimensional, uninteresting way.  After a harrowing reveal of what's in the case, the plot jumps off its cliff of absurdity.  Inside the case are four bags full of blue granules, drugs which apparently make its customers wildly unhinged when taken in small doses.  It is called CPH4, and has the ability to open up avenues in the brain while apparently killing its human host ever so slightly each time.

Lucy, along with three other saps, is knocked out cold and one of the bags is sewn into her stomach.  She is forced to mule this drug to the States, but before she can even get out of Taiwan she is attacked when in custody, kicked right in the stomach where the bag is (who are these fools?), and the bag hurts open.  The granules flood into her system in some hyper-stylized moments of computer animation.  Next thing you know, Lucy's brain capacity goes from 15 to 20%, then 30%, and so on.  There are a handful of interesting things Lucy can do now, like see cellphone traces into the sky, hear from long distances, access computers, and even control objects through the manipulation of matter.  Too bad the film wants to be about her exacting revenge for the most part.

Lucy turns into a badass fighting machine.  She can't feel pain because that's just a blocking impulse in your brain and, well, there's nothing blocking anything anymore.  Interwoven in the plight of Lucy is Professor Norman, played by Morgan Freeman who must have some sort of agreement to star in no less than fifty movies a year.  Professor Norman has written books about the human brain, and Lucy seeks him out for his help.  For what, I'm never quite sure.  The action scenes pop up and dissipate while Norman is giving a speech in Paris, and eventually the two stories meet.  But I couldn't muster the energy to keep paying attention by that point.

I didn't expect Lucy to be some sort of film neurologists would show their students in the future, but I expected it to be fun and fresh.  By the third act, reality in any way, shape or form has abandoned the story.  Lucy has basically turned into a combination of all the X-Men with her ability to change her hair in seconds and pin gangsters up against the ceiling with her brain.  At the end, once Lucy reaches full brain capacity, she turns herself into some sort of computer and figures out ways to travel through time and space.  I was lost.  All the while a shootout occupies the lobby of the building where she is becoming a computer, a shootout with no point or consequence when it comes down to it because, well, Lucy is everything and everywhere?  I'm not sure, because I was ready to get out of the theater.