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Movie review: 'Lucy', despite what the film tells us, is completely brain dead



According to the science presented to us in Lucy (opening today), as intelligent as us humans may think we are, we have only unlocked 10% of our brain's capacity. The question that is posed in the film is: What would happen if we were able to access more of it? Don't worry. Apparently the filmmakers barely accessed even 1% of theirs in creating this slow-burning disaster of a film.

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures, 2014. Used with permission.

It won't take much of your 10% to get through Lucy. In fact, you're better off leaving your grey matter at home completely. But it didn't have to be like that. Lucy actually started out with some promise. We meet Lucy (Scarlett Johannson) as she is arguing in the street with her scuzzy new boyfriend of one week. He is trying to convince her to deliver a briefcase to a nearby office building, for reasons he won't tell her. So what's in the briefcase? The initial intrigue matched with the sharp dialogue between the two set this one off on the right foot.

But then, Lucy enters the building and the movie's logic exits it. Lucy is abducted by a brutal kingpin, Jang (Min-sik Choi) and finds out that the briefcase contained a massive amount of a new drug that has hit the streets. She is forced to become a drug mule for these gangsters and they cut her open, stick a large bag of the drug on her insides and send her off to Paris to deliver it on the other side.

But Lucy takes a kick to the gut, the bag is ripped open inside of her and all hell breaks loose. The drug - instead of killing her - instead seems to open up her brain, man. As the film kindly shows us with large percentage graphics throughout the remainder of the film, Lucy gains 20% of her brain power, then 30% and so on, as she continues to build towards 100%, morphing into a vessel that will finally show us the full potential of human existence.

But boy does the limitations of the filmmaker's brains create some problems. What a disappointment, that Lucy basically becomes Spock over the course of the film, her brain pulsing with knowledge and information. She even performs Spock's patented mind-meld at one point. She also gains the ability to infiltrate electronic devices and manipulate sound waves. She can freeze people with her thoughts and read people's minds. Instead of finding these new powers incredulous, she loses all human emotion. As she loses all human emotion, we care less and less for her.

Mixed into this mess is Morgan Freeman, who plays a scientist and whose main role is to explain to us in large, uninteresting chunks all of the "science" behind what we are seeing. Amr Waked plays a French detective caught up in the mix.

The mob of course is furious that there drugs have gone missing, so they are in hot pursuit of Lucy. Since the film has already established that Lucy is invincible, their hunt is pointless. Are we supposed to fear for Lucy when these thugs shoot at her and she no longer feels pain? When they chase after her and with barely an effort, she waves her hand and drops a roomful of thugs to the ground? This movie is dumbed-down in too many insulting ways to really keep track of.

Lucy went from promising to amusing to annoying to down-right awful as it chugged along towards its absolutely ridiculous ending. It seems to be wanting to carry an important message to us, about humanity and how time is the only measurable unit that matters. But watching Lucy is time that I would like to have back.

Genre: Action, Science Fiction

Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes, Rated R

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked

Written & Directed by Luc Besson (The Family, The Lady, The Fifth Element)

Opens locally on Friday, July 25, 2014 (check for show times).

Be sure to watch Tom Santilli on TV! Check your local listings for “Movie Show Plus” for Tom’s weekly movie review segment.

How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"

  • 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
  • 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
  • 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
  • 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
  • 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time
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