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Lucy (R)




Lucy (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

07/31/14
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 Scarlett Johansson gets an upgrade to her operating system in Lucy, a movie that probably only uses 10 percent of your brain.

Lucy (Johansson), a student in Hong Kong, has been dating Richard (Pilou Asbaek) for about a week. He tells her he needs a small favor: take a suitcase into the hotel and give it to Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). Lucy knows enough to tell him “no” but Richard handcuffs her to the case before she can leave and sends her in. As she feared, the situation goes downhill fast. Mr. Jang’s men shoot Richard and drag Lucy into an elevator. Eventually, she learns that there are drugs in the suitcase and, like it or not, she has one more job to do for Jang. She’s knocked unconscious and wakes up with a bandage over her stomach and is told that one of the packets of sparkly blue drugs is now inside her. When she lands at her destination, Jang’s men will meet her and remove the drugs. But things go wrong, and, while she’s being beaten up by one of Jang’s men, the bag breaks. The drug floods her system and sudden Lucy is strong enough, agile enough and smart enough to know exactly how to defeat the men holding her, unchain herself and find her way to a hospital. Even after Lucy has the packet removed, Lucy’s mental abilities continue: she’s soon able to remember in detail every moment of her life, change her hair’s length and color at will, move objects with her mind and make people go to sleep. The more of her brain the drug allows her to access, the more Lucy follows the path of Johansson’s Her character, becoming one with the universe.
Because, medicine!
Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), a scientist who studies the brain, begins the movie with that sci-fi-friendly (and wrong, Google it) premise that people only use 10 percent of their brains. Then he walks us through the abilities people could have as they increase their percentage of use — at 40 percent, they sprout wings and fly; at 60 percent, they are as gods and know the meaning of the universe; at 80 percent, they gain the power to control frizz on humid days (OK, maybe he didn’t say any of those things but they’re really no crazier than anything his character suggests). The mystery drug here is, we’re told, a synthesized version of a chemical created during pregnancy to help a fetus develop. But, essentially, think of it as MacGuffinol and it basically makes Lucy a supernatural being who can do whatever the script needs her to do at any moment. And what she generally needs to do is kick ass.
Lucy has a sense of humor about itself, about its nutty little plot device and how it changes Lucy, about its action and even about its editing. As Richard is trying to convince Lucy to deliver the suitcase, we get brief cutaway shots of cheese being set on a mouse trap and a big cat apex predator hunting a gazelle. Lucy, the Australopithecus Afarensis (and yes, that I had to Wikipedia), also makes an appearance — evolution!, shouts the movie with no subtlety. Amr Waked shows up about halfway through to play a Paris detective whose main job appears to be looking shocked while Lucy does one or another crazy thing. There is a fair amount of nonsense in this movie but the movie doesn’t linger on the nonsense, it doesn’t seem to care if we believe. This is a movie about butt-kicking and nifty special effects, and everything else, from explanations to Johansson’s monotone acting, is just part of the soundtrack. 
Lucy isn’t the smartest movie you’ll see all summer, but it has its moments of fun, laugh-out-loud goofiness and occasional arresting visuals. C+
Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images and sexuality. Written and directed by Luc Besson, Lucy is an hour and 30 minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.
 
As seen in the July 31, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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