Movie Review #848: ‘Lucy’ is a lot of fun, even with its flaws.

By Alexander Diminiano


Action, Sci-Fi
Rated R (contains graphic violence, disturbing content, sexual content, drug content)
90 minutes

I wouldn’t call “Lucy” a “smart” movie, but I wouldn’t exactly say it’s “dumb,” either.  Its intelligence seems irrelevant, because Luc Besson’s script plays out as if writing it took no thought at all.  Not that we asked for character development anyway, but there’s really only three things we can say about the characters in this movie: One, Scarlett Johansson plays a stereotypical dumb blonde who becomes smart, then all-knowing, then as manipulative as a god.  Two, Morgan Freeman’s the other good guy.  Three, everyone else in the story is a bad guy.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a student in Taipei, Taiwan.  She’s there with her boyfriend, who she’s only been dating for a week.  So she hasn’t yet discovered that he’s involved in drug trafficking.  But she finds out soon enough, when he fools her into acting as a drug mule for his own business affairs.  His fellow criminals open up her stomach, where they hide a bag of CPH4, a drug that has been synthesized only recently, but is usually produced by pregnant women to construct their fetuses’ brains.  While confined in a small room, Lucy is kicked in her stomach, which causes the bag to burst open.  We learn that a normal human can access only 10% of his or her brain, but because of the drugs that are cruising through her body, Lucy begins to access 20%, 30%, 40%…

I had a lot of fun watching “Lucy”.  As her boyfriend suggests in the beginning, the name Lucy was chosen as a reference to the Australopithecus fossil of the same name.  “Lucy” draws interesting comparisons between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom, establishing a message regarding the oft-overlooked animal nature of humans.  As Lucy is being tricked into working for the drug traffickers, we cut to the silent image of a mouse crawling toward a cheese-loaded mousetrap.  As she stands in front of a desk secretary, unaware that dangerous men are standing behind aiming their loaded weapons at her, we cut to some footage of a cheetah scampering after its prey.  These comparisons make “Lucy” an even cooler experience.

“Lucy” is a fast-paced sci-fi movie.  Its script is written out of free will, making its happenings random and unpredictable.  For most of the movie, this is extremely beneficial.  The unforeseeable sequence of events truly elevates the movie to a whole new level of entertainment.  Not just the story, but the sight and sound of “Lucy” are thrilling.  Eric Serra’s techno score gives the movie an extra dose of breathlessness.  Cinematographer Thierry Arbogast captured “Lucy” at a 2.35:1 ratio, rather than the conventional 1.85:1.  The picture’s enhanced widescreen suggests Lucy’s omniscient view of the world around her, and gives the film an even more energized feel.

“Lucy” blends its action and humor in a way that is nothing but fun.  It does push a bit far in its concluding act, though at the same time, it establishes itself as the finest visual dessert of 2014 so far.  The last few scenes are merely the short downhill path in the movie’s style-over-substance attitude.  Though its substance it does have is pretty imaginative stuff, which only means that the style is all the more exciting.

Postscript: Unfortunately, the idea that humans can only access 10% of their brains is nothing but an urban legend.  If only!


2 thoughts on “Lucy

    • When I reviewed Limitless, I only gave A+, A, B, C, D, and F. There was no plus or minus at the time. Yet Limitless would have gotten an A-, based on the four-star grade I gave it on Flixster.

      Since then I have shifted from a letter-grading scale to a scale of zero to four stars. The three-star grade I gave Lucy would convert to anything between a solid B and an A-minus on my previous scale, and a three-and-a-half or a four on the standard five-star scale.

      So I wouldn’t say Lucy is “worse” than Limitless. I’d say I grade them the same, because they’re very difficult to compare. Sure, they set up on the same concept, but their stories overall are entirely different, and the styles of Neil Burger and Luc Besson are completely different from one another.

      Of course I always compare the specific aspects of movies, but I very rarely would compare any two movies as a whole unless one is a sequel to the other, or a remake, reboot, spinoff, companion piece, etc.

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