Review: Lucy (2014)

With all the talk about Scarlet Johansson and her not-forthcoming Black Widow solo film, I figured it was a good time to watch Lucy. This movie came out around this time last year, and a lot of hoopla was made about its uniqueness for staring just a female headliner in a summer blockbuster. But I must say, I was a little let down by it.

Genre wise, Lucy straddled the lines of reality and science fiction, trying to use science to back up plausible theories about human brain capacity. It did not do this especially well, a fact which left viewers a little confused and dissatisfied.


Johansson plays an American student named Lucy living in Taipei. This is all we are told about her before the movie’s plot hits the ground running when some sketchy dude named Richard attaches her wrist to a locked briefcase and hands her $500 for her trouble of delivering it to a mysterious Mr. Keng. She curses him and then reluctantly enters the hotel where he’s staying. I mean, how else is she going to get this thing off her wrist?

After a fear inducing interrogation juxtaposed with copious threats of violence and images of bloody corpses, Lucy is unwillingly made a mule for the transport of Mr. Keng’s newest narcotic. Then, just before transport, she’s sexually assaulted and beat up by one of Keng’s cronies, causing the substance to leak from its pack inside her intestinal track and into her blood stream. The weirdest epileptic fit in history follows, after which Lucy becomes a Total Freaking Bad-Ass.

Lucy’s body has been flooded with CPH4, a synthetic derivative of a hormone that women naturally produce in tiny increments while pregnant to spur fetal development. Within moments, her mind begins to expand its cognitive capacity, giving her access to increasing amounts of her brain. As the doctor at the hospital informs her, even a tiny amount of CPH4 can have the effect of an atomic bomb on a fetus. So it’s no surprise that she’s rapidly developing new skills.

Soon Lucy can manipulate her own body, changing her physical appearance at will, and manipulate basic waves like radio and television. She can manipulate other people too, making them levitate off the ground or fall asleep on her order. By the time she reaches 90% of her cognitive capacity, she can even manipulate time and space. With a few curt words and the power of her supercharged brain, Lucy becomes unstoppable in her quest to hunt down the other bags of CPH4 and take out Mr. Keng. Without any emotional capacity (this falls away completely by 30% capacity in order to make room for other things) Lucy suffers no guilt in taking out any and all of the obstacles in her way.

The one thing she does retain however, is a desire to pass on information. Humans do this naturally by reproducing, but Lucy uses the length of one airline trip from Taipei to Paris to write down anything and everything she now suddenly understands about physics and the philosophy of the universe. Why waste the brain capacity, right? If she’s going to die from an overdose of the CPH4 in few hours anyway, she might as well make it worth it. So she gets in touch with the world’s leading researcher on the human brain, Dr. Norman (Morgan Freeman), and gives him a rundown of everything he needs to know. In exchange, he helps the meagre plot along by providing it with copious amounts of exposition on brain science and cranial capacity, all of which he admits is theoretical.

I won’t go into the ending of this film in case a few people out there are still interested in watching it, but suffice it to say that Lucy ends pretty much the only way it can: suddenly and without any clear answers. Ultimately though I think that there’s a reason our brains don’t utilize their full capacity and that’s because our physical bodies just can’t handle it. Evolution hasn’t gotten that far yet. The movie seemed to support me this, too, if only vaguely.

Would I recommend Lucy? I don’t think so. Johansson was good in it and so was Morgan Freeman, but the plot was thin and not especially well thought out. Not even extreme stunts and theoretical physics discussions could save the movie from poor writing and I’d hate for anyone else to waste their time on it.

Have you seen Lucy? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments down below!


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