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Movie Review: 'Lucy' (2014) Starring Scarlett Johansson

Despite the principal precondition often appearing as simply an excuse to display over-the-top action, “Lucy” is far more science-fiction based than adventure oriented. In fact, Luc Besson’s film delves so far into scientific theories and philosophies that it rapidly becomes incomprehensible and downright existentially nonsensical. “Lucy” is just too outlandish for its own good. When the titular character’s powers expand beyond hyper-intelligence, and begin crossing into the realm of superhuman, not only do the action sequences lose their creativity and suspense, but also the need for any exciting escapades to exist at all is called into question. Attempting to locate the logical aspects of “Lucy” may be an exercise in futility, but less plausible set-ups have retained more entertainment by simply avoiding bringing attention to the absurdity (such as 2011’s “Limitless” and, to a lesser degree, 2009’s “Push”). “Lucy” seems to revel in it.

When her new boyfriend forces her to deliver a locked briefcase to a Korean businessman, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) becomes ensnared in an international drug-smuggling plot. Kidnapped and surgically implanted with a packet of CPH4, an experimental new narcotic, the young girl is scheduled to leave the country. But when a sinister turn of events leads to the package rupturing and the stimulant leaking into her body, Lucy suddenly finds herself able to access a previously untapped percentage of her cerebral capacity. Now, with extremely enhanced senses and the ability to process thoughts and information at an incredible rate, Lucy sets out to take revenge on the ruthless drug lord (Choi Min-sik) that imprisoned her.

The inaccuracy of the primary facts of the premise, which involves humans using only 10% of their brain capacity, is forgivable in the realm of establishing a fictional concept. Just as many movies are touted as “based on a true story” when they are instead entirely invented, it would be completely understandable if the audience believes every scientific explicandum from Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman. People actually use 100% of their brains, as evidenced by common sense concerning brain damage, along with published research and studies (according to “Lucy’s” logic, 90% of all brain damage incidents would be inconsequential - in reality, basically all brain damage cases result in some detriment). But even dismissing the ludicrousness of various misrepresented ideologies, the manner and design in which Lucy’s skills increase are hopelessly zany.

The smarter Lucy gets, the stupider the story becomes. Rather than gaining somewhat believable abilities, such as extreme intelligence, an encyclopedic memory, physical strength, heightened awareness, faultless coordination, and sharper senses, she quickly manages to read thoughts, control minds, instantly decipher new languages, and levitate objects. At a mere 20% brain capacity, the film is already deeply entrenched in science-fiction themes. Unexplainably, Lucy has an inarticulate conversation with her mother and continues to request help from people she couldn’t possibly need less, including a policeman and a lecturer, long after she’s clearly capable of changing her cellular makeup at will and commanding matter with psychokinesis. The majority of her actions inspire obvious questions about their necessity.

From a technical standpoint, the editing is overworked, focused on splicing in footage of symbolic imagery that isn’t nearly as clever as it is dully straightforward. Unconvincing computer graphics show Lucy’s insides on a molecular level, her vision is occasionally enhanced to demonstrate an interpretation of subjects like something out of “The Matrix,” and the finale borrows from ideas seen in “The Time Machine.” Further hampering potential awesomeness are a few sequences that depict Lucy’s precise, calculated murderousness, before lengths are taken to ensure victims are either deserving, wouldn’t have survived anyway, or only suffer flesh wounds. So much for the old-fashioned action movie notion of eliminating all obstacles no matter the cost. And despite a fun car chase scene, which would be sensational if any of it used genuine stunts, “Lucy” doesn’t even address the significant presence of the manufacturing and distribution of the drug itself, which is still out in the world and could easily affect someone else in the same way.

- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)