Movie Review: Lucy


A young woman is imbued with incredible powers after the drugs she was unwittingly trafficking spread through her body and unlock her mind.


Luc Besson, 2014

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a young student living in Taiwan with questionable taste in men. One such man betrays her to a drug cartel, the leader of which knocks Lucy out and sews a bag of blue powder into her. The drug turns out to be CPH4, which can apparently increase the amount of your brain you can use. When Lucy is attacked by a would-be rapist, the bag of drugs bursts inside her. Suddenly able to access untapped parts of her mind, which grant her extraordinary powers, Lucy turns to an expert, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman). She races around the world to try to survive, take out the drug ring, and share the information that she is now able to access.


This was a really unpleasant film to watch. For the first fifteen or so minutes I was intrigued; it was violent and the characters were sexist, but Lucy was, for a time, a sympathetic protagonist. Scarlett Johansson is a great action star, and with some good material could really shine. She imbues Lucy with sympathy early in the piece, but as soon as the drugs kick in she becomes an automaton, an emotionless and ethically challenge killing machine with no regard for human life. It’s a disturbing shift, and it paves the way for the rest of the blood-strewn film. Luc Besson’s mind must be a strange and unfriendly place. His concept of what people would do if they were able to unlock more of their mind’s capacity is disturbing and doesn’t seem to tally with what I know about people with greater intellects. The movie is, to be blunt, stupid, striving for intelligence and sabotaging itself at every time. I don’t mind a big dumb action movie, but there has to be some heart in it; this is all dumb action and no smart heart.

There are some good set-pieces here, and Morgan Freeman Morgan Freemans his way through a Morgan Freeman Lite role. The car scene looks great, and there’s something fun about the frenetic pace of the film. Besson intercuts images from previous films (by other directors, I might add) Samsara and Baraka and his own nature documentaries into action scenes. It’s a fun device, one that I was really starting to enjoy in that first act. Amr Waked puts in a solid performance as the only really sympathetic character in the piece. There are elements of a much better movie in here, which makes it all the more disappointing when it fails to engage. In spite of my feelings about ‘Lucy’, I’m encouraged by the popularity of this film at the box office. I hope it means we’ll get more action movies with awesome ladies in the lead, but with more heart, brains, and less racism next time, please.

Lucy on IMDb


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