Friday, July 25, 2014
Ready for Scarlett Johansson to perform “Through the Wormhole”-esq feats with Morgan Freeman conveniently there to explain it all?
By Tinsel & Tine Blog Contributor: Sam Watson
“Lucy” was written and directed by Luc Besson, and judging from the trailer, I wasn't quite sure what to make of this movie -
Would it be straight up science fiction?
Or be similar to recent comic book flicks in which we see characters develop superhuman abilities? -
I wasn't sure, and after seeing the film, I don’t think it nails down what it is, either.
The film revolves around Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) – a 25-year-old student, who may or may not be studying abroad, but definitely partying it up, in Taiwain. Her friend Richard (Pilou Asbæk) forces her to deliver a suitcase to some pretty bad people led by Mr. Jang (Choi Min-shik), who we find out plans to distribute the next “it” drug across Europe. Problem is, Jang needs mules to deliver said drugs to targeted cities. So, they implant bags of the drug- blue rocks that may elicit the copyright ire of Walter White- into the bellies of Lucy and three other poor saps. Jang’s English-speaking associate then threatens their lives and families if they don’t complete their mission. Lucy is eventually roughed up by one of her guards, which causes her belly bag to rupture, spilling the drug directly into her blood stream in huge quantities. This has a surprising effect on the woman as it drastically enables her to use more brainpower than anyone has ever before.
Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) is introduced, while sharing his research on the brain with the most polite class ever. As with “Through the Wormhole”, Freeman’s character is there to explain all this weird science stuff to us. “Lucy” employs one of the most well known tropes of science fiction: The notion that humans only use 10% of their brains, and what if we could unlock the other 90? This is something we’ve seen in countless other films and sci-fi mediums, but “Lucy” fails to establish the rules of its own universe. In general, movies require us to dispel our beliefs about reality and to buy into the rules of the fictional world on the screen. This is especially true of science fiction and fantasy flicks, which require us to believe that a man can fly, ships can travel faster than light and suits of armor can make mere humans into living tanks. So, it’s important to set up the rules of a movie’s universe and to stick to them. “Lucy’s” rules are basically explained
to us when Professor Smooth Voice tells his class what would theoretically happen if someone started to use more than 10% of his or her brain. He goes through it in stages. What would happen at 20%? What would happen at 40%, 50% and so on? But his predictions only go so far, so we are left wondering what Lucy will be able to accomplish as her brain reaches full power. And that’s a good thing. You don’t want to know what’s exactly going to happen. The audience should be able to experience Lucy’s transformation with surprise and fear for her well-being. But things happen to her onscreen, and are never explained. There’s a scene on an airplane, where Lucy’s body appears to be on the fritz, and we’re not quite sure why. It’s as though the audience is supposed to simply accept what we see without any sort of cohesive explanation that makes sense.
I feel that if this were a “Superman” film, we would never get the explanation of why Superman can fly, but Amr Waked), a cop, who, when witnessing Lucy’s abilities for the first time, doesn’t have any reaction that indicates surprise or confusion. He only states that it was one of the more freaky things he’s seen on the job, and that’s it! He immediately accepts that Lucy can perform these supernatural feats and doesn’t question it. He simply straps in for the ride.
simply just that he’s a man who can fly, so deal with it. I actually have a theory that Besson wants the audience to be just like Pierre Del Rio (
One of the film’s central conflicts revolves around the fact that Lucy is losing her humanity as her brainpower nears 100%. And that is a very tragic notion- to loose the emotions, desires and functions that make us a complicated, relatable and unique species. The film wants us to feel bad for Lucy’s continued evolution into some sort of machine-like state, but we never do...
And that’s mainly because we never get to meet Lucy as an actual well-rounded and fleshed out human being before her change. It’s hard to care about someone loosing her humanity if we were never able to connect with it in the first place. Presenting Lucy as nothing more than a student/party girl leaves us with nothing to relate to on a human level. So every time she expresses concern over becoming less human, those scenes just don’t carry the weight they should.
Lucy has a penchant for telling us all the different ways she feels different and it usually comes off as very silly. Even Morgan Freeman eventually sounds more like someone who’s stoned, as if he just smoked his best weed and feels like explaining grand scientific concepts to all of his friends. Also, less than halfway through the film, I realized that “brain” is a very awkward word to say in excess. Brain. It just doesn’t sound quite natural, especially when used in lines such as “I can feel my brain”, which is something Lucy says at one point. I half expected her to then utter, “Whoa, man” as a puff of scented smoke emerges from her mouth.
This film could have been a fun science fiction/action movie to fill our eyes with without our brains getting in
This movie wasn’t without its moments of fun and light heartedness, though- especially when the action ramps up to a sudden ridiculous degree (rocket launcher). One of Mr. Jang’s minions runs over to his master and declares Lucy a witch after he witnesses her power during a pretty comedic showdown in a hospital hallway. But these moments are short lived, because the rest of the story feels as stilted and mechanical as Lucy herself. So, now let me amend my opening sentence by saying: If you want to see Scarlett Johansson perform “Through the Wormhole”-esq feats with Morgan Freeman conveniently there to explain it all, well, you should probably ignore the good professor, because he’s totally high and she’s obviously tripping on something synthetic.
T &T's LAMB Score: 2.5 outta 5
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