Scarlett Johansson is on a hot streak of playing slightly weird characters in very strange films. This winter, she made us fall in love with her voice in Her, a voice performance that nearly got her nominated at the Academy Awards. She then followed up her Operating System role with that of an alien posing as a human in Under the Skin, one of the year’s best films and one of the most interesting experimental SciFi films I’ve ever seen. We also know her as Black Widow in the Marvel universe and now she gets to kick ass and be weird all on her own, as she explores her own mind and what’s possible when you surpass 10% brainpower.
Living in Taipei with her boyfriend Richard (Pilou Asbaek), Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) tags along on all of his odd delivery jobs and usually doesn’t bat an eye. That is, until Richard cuffs her to a briefcase that he’s too afraid to deliver himself and forces Lucy to deliver. Reluctantly, she goes into a hotel and asks for Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi) and is immediately met by his men and is apprehended. It turns out that there’s a new type of drug in the briefcase and Jang wants her to be one of four couriers to deliver to a new location. To ensure it doesn’t go missing, Jang puts the slightly opened drug pouch inside Lucy’s stomach and sends her on her way. Unfortunately for everyone, two men try to attack Lucy, rupturing the bag and sending the drug all throughout her body, causing her to twitch and start to unlock more than 10% of her brain.
After coming to, Lucy feels different and can do things that no other human can. She can feel the energy of everything around her and having unlocked more of her brain, she’s essentially a superhuman. After easily escaping her captors, Lucy sets out to find someone who understands her scenario and may be able to help her. Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) is the most advanced in the field of the brain, so Lucy naturally contacts him with her abilities to control anything with a magnetic current. The more time that passes, the closer Lucy gets to unlocking her full potential and no one can say what will happen. As she attempts to discover what’s left, an angry Jang and his men are out to get her. Will the rest of her brainpower aid her, or harm her?
Lucy has got to be one of the most absurdly fun movies I’ve seen this year and that doesn’t even begin to describe what I witnessed with my own two eyes. This film draws from a ton of other material, but it adds the thrill of action, power of imagery, and wonder that is Scarlett Johansson. Lucy couldn’t be any further from what I and many others thought that it was going to be, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lucy asks a lot of questions about human existence and the Universe, most of which it answers, and it’s never afraid to ditch intelligent conversations and explanations for things. It doesn’t always work, especially at the very end, but Lucy (in my opinion) is worth checking out, just for the weird experience.
Scarlett Johansson does a fantastic job throughout the film, as her character is always changing as she unlocks more of her brainpower. The more evolved she gets, the less emotional she becomes and thus she acts like less of a human. Many a time, she’s found staring off into space and contemplating human existence, the world, the universe, and how everything works. At times, she’s killing bad guys in spectacular fashion and it’s really not even fair. She lays waste to anything that opposes her and her mental superiority makes for a lot of jokes at the expense of others’ befuddlement and comparative stupidity. Of course, she can also be a sexy seductress when she wants and she uses that to her advantage when she needs to accomplish something. Lucy is a weird role, but Johansson plays her marvelously.
Though it draws comparisons to Limitless, this film chooses to go more in-depth on the whole “unlocking your brain’s full potential) and we see far more of what Lucy is capable of. We also get a great deal of explanation as to what’s happening to her and why she’s able to do what she can. This film balances science and action fairly well and when the two mix, it’s a total payoff for those intently watching. Lucy also brings up the discussions of mankind and how special we think we are, when in fact we’re not the center of the Universe. An emotionless Lucy makes sure to let us know that we’re a very microscopic part of the Universe and that nearly everything we think is wrong, because we only look at things in our own modified terms. Visually, we get a lot of fun images that coincide with what’s happening in the story and the cinematography is brilliant. Lucy is certainly a very attractive looking film.
There’s no doubt that Director Luc Besson channels his inner Terrence Malick and explores the universe and how time began. This film gets super trippy and has some The Matrix and Inception vibes to it at times and it never slows down to let you catch your breath. I’m one of the few who didn’t mind the inclusion of all these other film’s themes, because I think they all mesh well together you have some familiar elements to re-engage with. The science in the film is sound, especially because Morgan Freeman narrates it so delicately and plainly, just so anyone who isn’t a scientist can understand. Lucy certainly offers us a lot to chew on and it’s a crazy hour-and-a-half journey with a lot of potential.
That hour-and-a-half runtime is Lucy’s biggest weakness, because the film ends so abruptly that you’re not sure what to think. The ending is somewhat cheesy, though not totally awful, but it leaves you yearning for so much more! Give me at least twenty more minutes, so we can explore Lucy’s abilities as she makes each 10% jump in brainpower. No, instead it’s just over after she reaches 100% and it feels like a total cop-out for the film. This is a rare instance where I’m begging a film to be longer and do more for me, because this film’s premise offers up so much potential for more adventure and exploration of Lucy, her powers, and the universe.I don’t imagine that they’ll make a sequel to this film and I’m honestly not sure how much audiences are going to like this film.
Lucy feels like a film that’s going to fall somewhere in the middle of the “dislike/like” spectrum. I can totally see why people wouldn’t like this film, because we never get some questions answered and it’s over before we have a chance to fully comprehend what all she can do. There will be some, like me, who liked the film because it’s smart, fun, and interesting, but I’m not sure there will be many who outright love it, or hate it. Scarlett Johansson and the premise are going to be huge draws for Lucy, but I can’t help but think that everyone’s going to be slightly disappointed that this isn’t the movie that it’s being billed as. There’s some action here and there, but this film is way more about Science Fiction than anything and if those Universe exploration scenes don’t do it for you, then I’m thinking you may want to bypass Lucy.