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Media Reviews: Lucy

Grade: B

From the time we are born, we automatically begin to probe and prod our brains and the brains of others, desperately searching for the two biggest questions of the universe: where do we come from and what is our purpose?

We look to history, we look to science, and we look to the stars in the hopes of understanding where we came from, to explore the most inner workings of our minds, in search of the key that unlocks all the doors. Unfortunately, we rarely get to see more than fractions of exactly how far our minds will take us, as it is extremely difficult to manifest these endless thoughts of wonder into words or images. But Luc Besson’s 2014 action/sci-fi film “Lucy” utilizes cutting-edge visuals, subliminal message-like cut scenes (among other non-diegetic elements) and a stunning performance by Scarlett Johansson to turn what is scientifically unknown into a tale of beautiful wonder.

“Lucy” is among several other films to play on the theory, myth, etc., of how humans only use around 10 to 15 percent of our cerebral capacity. A youthful and free spirit, to put it delicately, named Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is forced into hiding a package of a new drug within her stomach. The bag accidentally breaks and leaks and Lucy’s mind is thrust into a world of endless knowledge and power that goes far beyond that of any other human. However, the drug, while helping her stretch all corners of her mind, is also killing her and Lucy must find a way to stay alive long enough to reach 100 percent of the brain’s potential in order to pass on what she knows before she “dies.”

This film was all about its main character, as the title suggests. Scarlett Johansson did an excellent job (for the most part) in portraying a normal woman who transcends through millions of years of evolution in just over 24 hours. She begins the film as the stereotypical blonde, living in a foreign country to be adventurous and spontaneous. After the bag of drugs is popped, we instantly see a switch in character; Lucy is no longer the blonde living abroad with rich parents, but is now a butt-kicking and stone-cold, calculating being of immense power and knowledge. By the end of the film, Johansson’s character is nothing short of god-like in her abilities and composure. That said, the film doesn’t make the immediate switch in a way to where it seems like they’re cutting corners. Rather, we see Lucy slowly detach herself from the “obstacles” that make us human as she reaches higher percentages of her brain (which the film shows through non-diegetic cut scenes). As she begins to realize that love, pain, fear or any other emotion or weakness is trivial and only serve as illusionary blocks, we see her reminiscing in the nostalgia of what it was like to be human, something she will never know again. We see this most of all when she calls her mother for the last time, sadly but calmly pouring her heart out to her, thanking her for every kiss on her forehead, as she knows love and true human care for another is a thing of the past.

The beloved Morgan Freeman also appears in the film; as usual, he lends his calm and humble voice for fantastic narration and storytelling. However, as I mentioned earlier, this film is really about one person, Lucy. Freeman’s character, Professor Norman, only serves as the essential humanity and scientific understanding necessary for such a perplexing concept. As a narrator would, Freeman’s character guides the viewer through plot and complicated theories.

Although the film’s concept is complicated, it is still, at face value, nothing more than a summer blockbuster. The entire film utilizes fairly simple and straightforward shots and angles, peppered with quick scenes of action. To be honest, most viewers might look at many of the scenes and be turned away by the intense action and computer-generated visuals; again, it seems to be nothing more than another Michael Bay film with guns and explosions. However, if you look closely, this film does an excellent job matching its various techniques to its concept. The brain is an extraordinary thing; it is nothing more than tissue connected by electrical impulses and nerve endings capable of long and complicated thought, the ability to gain and retain new information at rapid speeds, and above all, the capability of endless imagination. “Lucy” does a fantastic job at symbolizing the real-life brain, cutting back and forth, and gaining new information with every quick step. This effect is especially achieved in the subliminal message-like cut scenes of life’s creation, reproduction and death, as well as the sporadic cuts to black showing nothing more than the current percentage of cerebral capacity Lucy is able to control. As a result of these cut scenes, accompanied by hauntingly beautiful music, by the end of the movie my brain felt like a computer downloading files of genetic and aesthetic portrayals of imagination and how we came to be. The film blends the science and beauty of our origins and the unknown so well that at the end you will feel a connection to humankind and the universe as far as you will let your mind take you.

I only give Luc Besson’s film “Lucy” a B because there are many who will focus on the unrealistic nature of this film. Sure, some of the effects and abilities may seem completely blown out of the realm of realism; but again, our minds are endless pools of imagination and potential. Do not reflect on the discontinuity of realism within this movie, but encourage yourself to instead imagine these things are possible, because in all truth, we don’t know what is and what isn’t possible when it comes to our minds and the universe. “Lucy” is a symbol of what is scientifically and beautifully unknown told through the only thing as vast as the universe itself, our imaginations. Go see “Lucy” this weekend, or today, and be blown away by this summer’s best movie to date.

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