“Lucy” and Hollywood’s Disservice to the General Public (Part 2)

This is the actual movie review for Lucy. If you missed the preview (or Part 1), click here.


In Part 1, I was disappointed Lucy continued an annoying myth saying that humans only use 10% of their brains. However, I promised to try to write a review that would not take that fallacy into consideration, even though it pretty much completely ruins the premise of the movie.

And you know what? I did it.

In retrospect, there were two or three things Lucy did wrong: it tried to be The Tree of Life, it gave Lucy way too much power, and it had Morgan Freeman say humans only use 10% of their brains. People believe what that man says – he is God after all. So yeah, I was tempted to jump up after the movie ended and yell, “People, just so we’re all on the same page here, humans use 90% of their brains. Morgan Freeman is lying! Please believe me! Please!”

But I didn’t.

So let’s get on with the review, and look specifically at the first two problems listed above.

First of all, I should mention that Wesley Morris over at Grantland made the comparison with The Tree of Life before me. While I don’t want to go as far as saying I copied him, let’s just say I read his review before I saw the movie and it was a very appropriate analogy.

Also, I saw The Tree of Life AND The Thin Red Line fairly recently and was very blown away by them, so it’s safe to say director Terrence Malick was already on my mind to begin with. Okay? Good.

That's Jesus.

That’s Jesus.

Director Luc Besson must have seen The Tree of Life just as recently as me, because he sure had a ton of nature clips (usually involving special effects) in the movie. Sometimes they worked well, but most of the time they were just cheesy.

In the first thirty minutes for example, he resorts to some odd type of symbolism, only it’s so obvious I couldn’t help but wonder if a freshman film major had done some unauthorized editing in an attempt to be clever. One of the early scenes involves Scarlett Johansson’s character, Lucy, waiting in a hotel lobby with a mysterious case handcuffed to her wrist. She’s waiting for a guy (Choi Min-shik’s bad guy character) to come down and get it.

As it turns out, his goons come down and shit gets real.

While she’s waiting, Besson decided it would be a good idea to show brief clips of gazelles being pursued by a cheetah (I’m not exactly sure what the animals were, but I can’t be too wrong here). You get the imagery: she’s about to get wrecked.

Of course, things turn out to be a little more complicated, because Lucy is wearing a jacket with cheetah prints on it. Perhaps she’s the one inadvertently grabbing the bad guys and wrecking them.

I’m not sure I give Besson that much credit though.

You should know what happens next, so why don’t we just cut to the chase: Lucy turns into goddamn Neo from The Matrix and Mystique from X-Men.

Yes, she can see through things and change her physical attributes (to a certain extent in the beginning). The next thing you know, she’s learning languages within minutes, controlling other people’s bodies, and even gets into a memorable fight scene where she just walks down a hospital corridor as Korean gangsters punch and kick the air around her to no avail. Then they get pinned to the ceiling. Zany!

Surprisingly, it all works for at least half the movie. That’s the beautiful thing about directors like Besson: it’s that European slickness. Besson also directed movies like The Fifth Element and both Taken films. Highly enjoyable stuff. There’s a certain visual spectacle associated with Europe – I lack the expertise to put it precisely into words. Just know it’s there.

This guy's career definitely knows it's there.

This guy’s career definitely knows it’s there.

And that’s what holds most of the movie up from the depths of poop.

People like to compare Lucy and Limitless because they have the same basic premise: protagonist takes drug, becomes really goddamn smart, and must actually face himself/herself more than the so-called “bad guys” in their respective films.

I think an argument could be made that if you look at the first half of both movies, Lucy might be better. But then… things go downhill very quickly for poor Lucy and her crazy blue crystals.

The great thing about Limitless was how believable it was. At least I thought so. While Bradley Cooper’s character got extremely intelligent, he wasn’t doing stuff that would make Superman shit his pants. It was all grounded and followed some sort of logic, even if it wasn’t always perfectly solid.

Lucy goes completely the other way. I already described some of the insane things Scarlett Johansson’s character is able to do, but the audience can take most of that stuff. But not after the first half of the movie (or maybe the first two-thirds). At that point, Lucy is truly unstoppable. Then she realizes she’s eventually going to evaporate into thin air and become one with time. Or something.

That’s when Lucy and Morgan Freeman’s character finally meet up. That’s also when Lucy goes through some kind of freaky Resident Evil transformation, all in the name of building a supercomputer to hold all the knowledge she’s acquired. She succeeds, obviously, and Morgan Freeman ends up with an unusually long USB flash drive.

Minutes later, it turns out Lucy can communicate with humans through electronics, as she proclaims via text: I AM EVERYWHERE.

So what was the point of that USB flash drive?

At this point, no amount of special effects can save the cluster of yuck Lucy has turned into. To make it worse, it goes back into The Tree of Life, and we fly backwards through time (Native-Americans included) and the depths of space. Great, who cares?

I will say this though: one of the best parts of the movie occurs when Lucy is explaining to Morgan Freeman and his fellow scientist friends that numbers and letters don’t actually exist – they are just creations used to try and explain our existence. Apparently time is the only true measure of humanity.

That’s an intriguing premise, mostly because it’s generally accepted that humans perceive through two methods: time and space. In fact, I believe it was Kant who first said that.

I think all that needs to be said is this, really: if you look at Lucy on a fun little summer popcorn flick of a curve, you’re going to find this movie was pretty enjoyable. I genuinely thought it was worth the frustration I felt later on.

Besides, Scarlett Johansson is Scarlett Johansson. You can’t miss someone like that over something silly like a movie inexplicably blowing up during the last 33%!

2 thoughts on ““Lucy” and Hollywood’s Disservice to the General Public (Part 2)

  1. Good review, you definitely nailed the pros and cons of this movie. Unfortunately I don’t think it was as purely enjoyable as Taken or The Fifth Element, which were fun enough to warrant multiple viewings.

    • I think I could watch the first half a few more times. Maybe. But I agree – this was not on par with Besson’s better movies. Which is okay, because every director has a dud here and there. And this is pretty decent for a “dud” anyway.

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