Monday, July 28, 2014

Lucy review

Evolution. Human existence. Time. Space. Topics for a summer popcorn movie? Maybe not. But director and screenwriter Luc Besson boldly goes where no summer blockbuster movie has gone before with his film Lucy. The movie may have taken its name from the main character but with scenes of prehistoric earth featuring the hominid Lucy, man's evolutionary ancestor, it becomes clear that Besson wants to tackle human evolution.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)is an American student in Tapei, Taiwan. She likes to party and meets a man named Richard who wants her to bring a briefcase to gangster Jang. (Choi Min-sik) Lucy refuses but Richard handcuffs the case to her wrist thus forcing her to deliver it. Inside the case are four packets of a drug called CPH4. The drug is produced is present in human fetuses to get the body to build bones and organs. Jang intends to introduce it not for medical reasons but for drug abuse. He inserts one packet surgically into Lucy so she can act as a mule. The other three are also embedded to other mules. While in captivity, one of Jang's men beats her so bad that the drug leaks into Lucy's body. Meanwhile, Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) is lecturing that man only uses 10 percent of his brain. If man were to use more, he could become more like the dolphin with the ability to organically manipulate the environment. By the way, the small use of the human brain was covered in the funny comedy, Defending Your Life. (1991) But I digress, the effect is that the drug allows her to use more of her brain giving her paranormal abilities. She needs the other three packages so she goes to Jang to find out where they are at.

Scarlett Johansson is very good as Lucy. She goes from terrified college student to a woman who's aware of everything in her environment to a human computer. As far as villains go, Choi Min-sik's gangster Jang is ruthless leaving multiple bodies in his wake. Morgan Freeman is well cast as Professor Norman. His lecture on the use of the brain by humans in the movie is fascinating and well written. It's more compelling than some of the action scenes in the film. He's basically playing himself if you've seen him host the Science Channel's Through the Wormhole. In both roles, Freeman demonstrates his love for science and philosophy.

Luc Besson has his detractors. I wasn't a fan of Besson's science fiction movie, The Fifth Element (1997) which was rather juvenile. But you've got to applaud Besson for making a film that tackles human evolution and existence. He deftly mixes action scenes that demonstrate Lucy's superpowers, car chases and images of the universe. Yes, I'm talking about the universe. Besson knows how to use beautiful, strange images to show Lucy's ability to perceive the world. Human evolution in science fiction has been tackled before. Most notably 2001: A Space Odyssey. (1968) Besson is unafraid of asking the audience to think. What can the brain do when a human can access one hundred per cent of it? And I'm talking about from an evolutionary stand point. Mind control over others. Telekinesis? Unlocking the secrets of the universe? There are very few missteps in this film. The movie needs more time to breathe by having even more discussion about Lucy's evolution. And the last scene made very little sense in context with the voice over narration. I'm sure that's something that Besson should think about changing for any future edition of this film.

Lucy is an entertaining movie that explores human existence. I left the movie thinking about what makes us human. The grade is A.

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