Is that all there is?
Film Review © 2014 by Trip Reynolds
Directed by Luc Besson; Screenplay by Luc Besson; Executive Producer Marc Shmuger; Produced by Virginie Silla.
Starring: Scarlett Johansson (as Lucy), Morgan Freeman (as Professor Norman), Min-sik Choi (as the evil, Mr. Jang), Amr Waked (as French police officer, Pierre Del Rio), Julian Rhind-Tutt (as The Limey), Pilou Asbæk (as the deadbeat, Richard); Analeigh Tipton (Lucy's roommate and best friend, Caroline), Nicolas Phongpheth (Jii), Jan Oliver Schroeder (as the French "drug" Mule), Luca Angeletti (as the Italian "drug" Mule), and a host of others.
The premise of this film is simple, we humans barely use 10% of our brain capacity and intelligence; so what would happen if we used 100% of our total intellect. Let's deal with a few concepts and facts this film elected to ignore.
First, if you've seen any of the films in the "Matrix" film franchise (1999 to 2003) then "Lucy" will immediately seem, well, poorly conceived. If you recall, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his comrades Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) would literally "plug" their brains into a computer and "upload" any data required to navigate or to perform any activity in the Matrix. This "merging" process between humans and various forms of non-corporeal energies and/or forms of existence is a well-worn topic in science and science fiction. Films like "Tron" from 1982, "Tron: Legacy" from 2010, and "The Lawnmower Man" from 1992 and other films did this very thing. However, this "merging" process is not science fiction.
Second, I'll borrow the following phrase, "WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY," from the ABC-TV series, 1974 to 1978, "The Six-Million Dollar Man." We can currently put millions of bytes of data on the tip of pin. In fact, we can place computer chips in the brains of disabled people and enable them to move their fingers, arms, legs, and yes, they can even convey thoughts to command the functionality of prosthetic devises and various equipment. Yes, we have this technology now, and we've been refining it, making it better and better for many, many years. So, do the math, one day - sooner than we might think - humans will be able to record the entire history of the human species, every language, all the science, all the history, every piece of data held in every print or electronic-based encylopedia on a single chip that can be inserted into the brain of a pre-born child (or adult), and that child will be born with the capacity to perform as our intellectual superior; and perhaps, the child's physical capacity might be augmented as well! Therefore, except for refining some social skills, will there be a need for public education as we know it now? Plus, if we're able to literally tap into the inner resources of our intellect, what's to stop us from becoming completely cybernetic, like the "Borg" in the Star Trek film franchise, or . . . evolving or assimilating into something entirely different?
"Lucy" didn't address these issues. In the film, Lucy's intellect was enhanced as a direct result of an overdose from a synthetic designer drug (i.e., software), but not technology (i.e., "hardware" as in the "Matrix"). Watching this film is akin to watching the Fox TV program "24," because the frenzied pace of this film is plastered with large on-screen warnings that "Lucy" has now evolved to reach 30% of her intellectual capacity, now she's at 60% of her intellectual capacity, and oh no, now she's at 90% of her intellectual capacity . . . and the film has a total running length of less than an hour-and-a-half (89 minutes), so the end credits will appear soon, and hopefully, we'll retain our intellect in order to understand what's going on. How do we know that Lucy wasn't hallucinating, which would clearly set us up for a sequel that functions as a flashback? Can you say, "Back to the Future"? Or, perhaps, the title of this movie, "Lucy" is actually a reference to the legendary song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, because many people have always speculated that the first letter of each of the title nouns intentionally spelled the psychedelic drug LSD! Maybe "Lucy" was just trip'n!
The acting in this film is competent, first-class all around. Min-sik Choi was particularly nasty as the evil, Mr. Jang. Except for constantly rising starlet (Iron Man, The Avengers) Scarlett Johansson, as the only cast member with any U.S. domestic and/or international marquee value, Morgan Freeman was cast to give film the credibility it clearly lacked without his presence. It didn't work.
Lucy appeared to be evolving past the point of her humanity, but the script failed to consistently chart or explain this evolution. SPOILER ALERT: Lucy shot and killed a patient on the operating table, but she didn't kill the evil Mr. Jang when she had the chance. Lucy diagnosed her best friend's medical condition, but although she had the intellect to do more, Lucy elected not to pursue cures to diseases that impact humanity. Lucy evolved from her physical form, and as she promised Professor Norman, she would leave "evidence" of her ascension via a computer, but instead of leaving a fully functional, highly advanced, state-of-the-art computer system that she evolved into, Lucy left the professor a tiny USB-drive. Really? Likewise, if we, like Lucy, reach the zenith of our intellectual evolution, religious fanatics might ask, "Where's God?" And somewhere Peggy Lee is singing,"Is That All There Is?" Lucy profoundly answers this and all questions with her final dialogue in the film:
"Life was given to us a billion years ago, and now you know what to do with it."
Do what? Someone clearly needs to decode Lucy's message. LOL!
Directed by Luc Besson, film has many 1960-ish psychedelic images to prompt us to imagine the evolution of Lucy's intellect, but these images appeared more like stock "stargate" footage from TV's "Stargate: SG-1" and hardly original. Plus, the special effects scences showing gangsters and their guns hanging from the ceiling seemed more like parlor tricks used by magicians in the 1953 film "Houdini" with Tony Curtis than something we'd expect from the highly evolved mind of our intellectual superior, Lucy!
Recommendation: Watch the video "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by The Beatles, and download the album from Amazon.com. Or, watch the 2011 film, "Limitless" starring Bradley Cooper, which has a similar storyline of using drugs to expand the human mind, but is a much better film.