After watching parts of Captain America: The Winter Soldier a couple of times on Starz this weekend, and seeing a ton of ads letting us know that Lucy was now available on DVD, the Mysterious Mr. C and I decided to make it a ScarJo weekend and check out the Luc Besson thriller. While the premise of the film had always intrigued me – seeing what can happen when a human being unlocks the full potential of their brain – I found the execution to be extremely shoddy.
First of all, we aren’t really given any time to connect with Lucy before she is thrust into the middle of a Taiwanese drug ring and turned into a mule, with a large package of a powerful new drug sewn into her stomach. While her experience is essentially the stuff travel nightmares are made of, we have no real sense of why she is abroad or what she is doing, or really anything that might humanize her. I guess we are just supposed to relate to her fear at being pulled into such a terrifying situation, but I would have liked a little more character development first.
Next, after the bag begins to leak inside Lucy’s body and she starts using more than 10 percent of her brain, she remains ridiculously calm about the whole thing. Perhaps that is because she is more focused on revenge or because, as she tells her mom, she doesn’t feel anything anymore, but I’m fairly certain I would be freaking out. I mean, not only have you seen several people killed at point blank range, but you’ve also been turned into a drug mule, that drug is now pouring into your body, and your body is reacting in a way that is completely new to science. Seems to be a bit freak-out worthy to me.
And it’s not just Lucy. Everyone who learns about her situation seems to be fairly accepting of it as well – from the Parisian cop she calls for help to Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman, who has theorized and written about what might happen when someone’s brain begins functioning at more than 10 percent. As Lucy’s brain becomes more powerful, she is capable of all kinds of things: controlling people, electrical frequencies, and matter. She even turns herself into an organic computer and downloads her knowledge onto a USB drive for Norman and several other scientists to study, yet they watch all of this in stunned amazement – passive bystanders simply taking it all in.
But more than the unrealistic reactions to what’s happening to Lucy, the biggest problem I had with Besson’s film was that it seemed to be more about the battle between Lucy and the drug cartel than about what things the human brain might actually be capable of. I was really looking forward to that part of the story, but it seemed to be more of an afterthought, used primarily as an excuse for some interesting special effects.
As the movie ends, Lucy intones: “Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what you can do with it,” but I’m not really sure that I do.