Lucy is a deftly constructed playground for a baked philosophy.
The new science fiction film from director Luc Besson (The Big Blue, The Fifth Element) stars Scarlett Johansson in a much anticipated role. She plays a hapless millennial globetrotter, currently finding Thought Catalog-y fulfillment teaching English and partying in Taiwan, most recently with a guy named Richard who is scruffy and wears red-tinted glasses and a straw hat.
Things go sour for her when Richard handcuffs a briefcase to her hand and dumps her in the lobby of a corporate stronghold where she is eventually turned into a mule to transport a new designer drug made out of something mothers give fetuses during pregnancy. There's a leak in the bag, and she has a massive overdose that, instead of killing her, steadily expands her brain capacity from the average 10% to closer and closer to 100%. With this comes powers of telekinesis, mind control, teleportation and the flawless use of high heels.
Lucy looks good. It is edited sharply. There are jokes that work, some fine set pieces, and Scarlett Johansson is at the top of her game. But at the end of the day, the movie is less a story about compelling characters or interesting ideas than a collage of memes cribbed from Neil Degrasse Tyson (World's Sexiest Astrophysicist as declared by People Magazine), the Dalai Lama, and Oprah Winfrey. Such revelations as "Most people think one plus one equals two. Actually, there is no one. There is no two"; "Time gives proof to the existence of matter"; and "It is up to us to push the laws and rules"”to go from evolution to revolution" are but a small sample of the stoned sophomorics on display.
Sam Adams over at CriticWire summed up the confusion over how to deal with the overt philosophizing of this movie"”it's like a giant dramatization of moments taken at random from episodes of Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole"”by saying that Lucy is either "the summer's smartest dumb movie, or its dumbest smart one." But by its own Zen logic, it can be both.
The film espouses a sort of pantheism"”to give full explanation would spoil the ending, but it deifies Lucy. She is not a loving God or even an angry one. She's a supercomputer who prefers champagne.
The film is creative, asks something of its audience and novel. It is worth seeing, just perhaps not believing.