Lucy

 

Universal Pictures

 

Rating: R

 

Reason for the Rating: Strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.

 

Plot Summary: A young woman experiences what it might be like to use 100% of her brain capacity when she receives a large dose of a new drug.

 

PopFam Recommends: While the action is exciting, the message is not. Skip this one.

 

It's not often you get to see a woman as the star of an action/sci-fi movie. We all know Scarlett Johansson is superb as Agent Romanoff in The Avengers, and she doesn't disappoint in the starring role of Lucy.

 

Lucy is based on the myth (see this article) that humans only use 10% of their brain, or "cerebral capacity" as it's called in the movie. While this is far above what animals use, it still falls short of what we have the capacity for and therefore limits our abilities. Lucy is a student living in Taipei, and has recently been "dating" Richard (Pilou Asbæk), a shady dude who wants her to deliver a locked briefcase to a Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). Despite her refusal, Richard locks the case to her wrist and informs her that Mr. Jang has the key. Reluctantly, Lucy meets Mr. Jang, who implants a pouch of a new drug into her abdomen. This new synthetic drug, CPH4, mimics a chemical pregnant women produce which causes a baby to grow.

 

Unfortunately for Lucy, she's beaten shortly after the implant, and some of the drugs seep into her system when the pouch breaks open. Immediately Lucy experiences supernatural symptoms: floating in the air, climbing the wall, and the inability to feel pain. But the drug doesn't only effect her physically, as her mind and senses are sharpened. Her mind is now working at 20% capacity.

 

The beginning of the movie is intriguing and visually stimulating. Director Luc Besson intersperses clips from nature. Predator and prey, as Richard attempts to entice Lucy into delivering the case. Predator attacking the prey as Mr. Jang kidnaps Lucy and forces her into being a drug mule. This interplay between the animal and human worlds doesn't continue throughout the movie, as the analogy doesn't follow (the predator ultimately becomes the prey) but is a unique visual of the scenario Lucy is facing.

 

Most of the movie is fast paced and mind bending, keeping the audience well entertained, but the last third of the movie is slow and takes an odd turn. Granted, this is sci-fi, which allows for odd turns, but as it doesn't follow the pace or tone of the rest of the movie it doesn't feel quite right.

 

As a parent, you should know that the theme of evolution isn't just strong in Lucy, it's really overwhelming and left me feeling like Besson wasn't just exploring an interesting, futuristic idea, but espousing an antagonistic worldview. The main character isn't named Lucy out of coincidence, but because (supposedly) the first "human ancestor" was named Lucy, whose remains were discovered in 1974. It was said she walked upright and is proof of apes becoming human, although some say these these remains are a hoax and are now thought to be a chimpanzee or other primate (see this article). Scarlett Johansson's character, Lucy, is the first human to overcome the obstacles of our cerebral capacity to become all a human can become. Full of knowledge. Absent of desire and pain. Able to control the minds of other humans and animals. What would a world look like with a world full of humans who could control and read each others minds? Who lack feelings like empathy, sympathy, love? Where knowledge is paramount? I can't say it's really a world of which I have any interest of being a part.

 

Typically, I like sci-fi. I find it fascinating to see what another person has imagined the future might look like, what gadgets or modes of transportation might be invented, or how humanity has survived despite great trial. But I didn't find any of this in Lucy. What I found were philosophical ponderings about what makes us human, a worldview that promotes an absence of God, and some action thrown in to make an interesting story. If you want to see a really entertaining movie about a person tapping into their "cerebral capacity," without all the philosophical contemplation, check out Limitless with Bradley Cooper on DVD. You won't be sorry you missed Lucy.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Do you agree with Professor Norman that humans are more interested in getting than giving?

 

• Is unlocking the mysteries of the universe the most important thing you could know? Explain.

 

• What are the things that make us human?

 

--JW

 

Tags: Lucy,Scarlett Johansson,Morgan Freeman,Luc Besson

 

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