Lucy is a strange science-fiction movie. Not so much because of its subject matter, more because it flirts with so many science-fiction sub-genres. But more about that latter. The film begins in Taiwan where Lucy, Scarlett Johansson, is exposed to a new experimental drug and finds her brain capacity greatly expanded. This increases her ability to acquire knowledge and opens up abilities like telekinesis. To find out what is happening to her brain she contacts a brain researcher played by Morgan Freeman.
Lucy does not seem to know what sort of science-fiction film it wants to be. It starts out as a thriller with Lucy’s boyfriend trapping her in a very dangerous situation. For most of its running time the movie is very much an action/adventure movie, as Lucy attempts to extract herself from the mess she is in. In amongst the action, the film superficially explores the potential of an expanded human brain. Near the end the movie attempts some revelations about the meaning of life.
The film was written and directed by mega-film maker Luc Besson, who also wrote and directed the excellent The Fifth Element. Some of his direction seems a bit bizarre, like his use of scenes of animals that are about to be trapped or attacked, or are copulating at the beginning of the movie. These scenes jar the viewer out of the movie. They seem designed to emphasise that humans who use only ten percent of their brains are motivated by primitive animal instincts. The movie than asks the question, what would motivate a human if they used more than ten per cent of their brain?
Scarlet Johansson is believable and involving as her character’s terror transforms into the emotional indifference of a seeker of knowledge. Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. The special effects are realistic.
The ending of the film is reminiscent of Altered States and 2001: A Space Odyssey, as Lucy goes on a visual trip while her brain ponders the universe. There is a very obvious tribute to 2001 involving a USB flash drive. It is a pity Lucy doesn’t attempt to answer the big questions like 2001 did.
Lucy is enjoyable to watch, but will disappoint those hoping to be challenged by ideas. Once a viewer exits the cinema, their animal instincts will quickly replace any examination of the film’s superficial meanings.