Good old Blinkbox. If you wait long enough without watching anything, they send you discount codes, which go very nicely with the tiny amount of credit I still have from a gift last year. Cue a number of free film rentals, one of which was Lucy which I watched this weekend.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
What happens when 100% of the brain is utilised? It’s an interesting question, one of numerous possibilities, most of which deserve to be explored. That is just what Luc Beeson’s film Lucy does. An American student in China, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is tricked into the headquarters of a powerful Chinese drug gang who force her into working as a mule for a new, powerful and strange blue drug. Horribleness ensues, resulting in the drug package in her intestines bursting. The drug reacts with her body, opening up her mind gradually until she is able to access 100%.
Now, according to IMDB, what happens next is that she ‘turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior’. What actually happens is that figures out how to keep herself alive for long enough to leave behind a legacy; all of her new vast knowledge.
And that is possibly where Lucy goes wrong.
She is helped by Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) who has spent 20 years of his life researching brain capacity and Captain Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked) as she is chased by drug barren Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi).
The film begins with a lot of promise, although with Luc Beeson’s usual weirdness. The beginning is interrupted regularly with representative images of nature. These disappear as Lucy’s mind begins to open up. These little integrated clips are distracting, artful and, after a while, a little annoying.
Lucy is already a well-rounded character. A seemingly nice girl who is enjoying her twenties and has fallen in with the wrong man. Her fear is palpable, and as such beautifully portrayed by Johansson, which means that when that bag of drugs splits into her you feel her new power. The next scene is glorious, as she quietly takes control of the situation, killing the disgusting men who hold her captive.
And that’s where the wonder ends. Because that’s, it seems, where Lucy’s humanity ends. And she isn’t even at 25%. Where she might be expected to preserve her own life, take revenge on the drug gang by killing Mr Jang and his British aide (Julian Rhind-Tutt) slowly, instead she kills innocents and goes after the other forced mules purely so she can have the drugs they carry. All of this so that she can share the meaning of life and all of her new knowledge with Professor Norman.
Lucy as a protagonist is weak. She doesn’t seem to consider protecting other people or righting the wrongs. Instead, she becomes purely about the new knowledge that fills her mind. The supporting cast are good, although the role of Captain Del Rio is strange. He serves a purpose, but Lucy shares a meaningless kiss with him that just doesn’t fit into the film. Is this to keep the women in the audience happy?
The acting in Lucy is brilliant. Scarlett Johansson is impeccable, and Min-sik Choi plays a wonderful antagonist. And Morgan Freeman. ‘Nuff said.
The film is also beautiful to look at. Those scenes of nature, along with artfully created scenes of space, time and cells make the film aesthetically pleasing, if not a little boring. There is also quite a lot of representation, for example at the beginning it is mentioned that the first human was called Lucy which comes to fruition when our Lucy meets and makes contact with that first human.
It’s also a short film and so moves along nice and quick.
But still, Lucy is missing that quality of oomph. Lucy starts off as a kind woman with her humanity intact but as she understands more about the world, she loses that with which we can identify. Suddenly you begin not to care about what happens to her. And if this is what using 100% of your brain does to you, you can keep it Lucy.
Perhaps ignorance truly is bliss.
Lucy is an interesting look into what could happen if humans could use all of their brain power and it makes you think. For this reason alone it is worth watching, but unfortunately Lucy doesn’t live up to its potential. So if you do choose to watch it, do what I did and don’t spend too much money on it.
Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.
(Stay away from drug gangs and be happy using only 10% of your brain. Apparently.)