RICKY: "A lot of people might say I’m stupid, I dunno. I don’t think I’m stupid. I’m probably smarter than that [holds up flower pot on desk]. I mean, this thing here is smarter than me, I guess [holds up desk clock], but its has a battery."
- from Trailer Park Boys, 5S 7E, ‘The Winds of Shit’
HANK: "You’re the smartest guy I ever met… but you’re too stupid to see… he made up his mind ten minutes ago."
- from Breaking Bad, 5S 14E, ‘Ozymandias’
Mindless unthrilling, unintelligent sci-fi fun with Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman - $5, or 10 Dairy Queen coupons.
If big Hollywood moviemakers, scriptwriters, producers, studio heads, etc., used more than 10% of their cognitive capacity, we’d wouldn’t get disappointingly ridiculous crap like this. Not that they give a fuck, for as long as 10% is enough to make them good money. Well, look at what they have accomplished with that 10%, eh?
Of course the whole belief that we humans only use 10% of our brains is a widely perpetuated, debunked myth. That has not stopped Hollywood (and sleazy salesmen of dubious programs and products purported to boost your mental capacity) from continuing to perpetuate this ridiculous assumption. It would make for an interesting movie concept though if applied in a right way, and in Lucy, the whole marketed theme is around pondering what happens if someone was able to use 100%. Unfortunately for Lucy, 90% of the cognitive potential is wasted on excessive special postproduction effects, cheesy marketing, and a B-movie-grade script that is as half-assed in thought and execution as Hitler’s invasion of Stalingrad (or for that matter, that fuck-awful 2013 Russian movie about the Battle of Stalingrad).
The movie is premised around Scarlett’s character Lucy, a young naive American in Taiwan for who-knows-what, because the movie doesn’t say much of anything about who she is or why she is in Taipei—she mentioned having to study, so maybe an international student? It’s not that important. What we do know immediately for certain is she’s been hanging out with a douchebag for a week, who now wants her to deliver for him a mysterious suitcase, contents unknown, to a Mr. Jang, in a hotel. As far as all the men we see in the first 10 minutes are concerned, Lucy is considered expendable.
Being forced to deliver the package was the worst thing to happen in her life, because Mr. Jang turned out to be the ruthless head of an Asian gang syndicate (I say Asian, because at first it seems like they speak Mandarin and have something to do with a Yakuza or Triad ring, then they seemed like they speak Japanese, then it finally turns out they are Korean—I’m fuckin confused), and Lucy was forced into being a drug mule, having a packet of drugs stuffed into her body and coerced to travel to Europe for delivery—something you typically hear of Latin American cartels, right?
What was in that suitcase? What did they put in Lucy? Mass produced quantities of a drug called CPH4 (possibly a growth hormone), guaranteed to light up the European party scene. It comes in the form of bright blue crystals—because, you know, every Hollywood depiction of synthetic drugs these days has to look like Heisenberg’s crystal meth. I kid you not. Maybe that’s what happened to Walter White’s chemical legacy since the end of Breaking Bad—LONG LIVE HEISENBERG!
But whereas methamphetamine made Walter White a greedy and vicious man, this CPH4 stuff leaking into Lucy is turning her into a superhuman, immediately giving her unprecedented savant intellectual capacities, superhuman powers, heightened consciousness/self-awareness and psychic abilities to manipulate space, people and matter, as she realizes she has unlocked the 90% of her brain she isn’t using before. The transformation is instant; suddenly Lucy has skills and abilities she never had or had in her before, far beyond and transcending human comprehension. She’s smarter and more powerful than ever, and she’s out to hunt down her captors with more merciless ruthlessness than their dear leader displays.
Apparently according to this film, this is what happens when you go beyond your 10%—and into using 100% of your grey matter. YEAH SCIENCE, BITCH! Whatever crack you’re smoking Lucy, I want some of that!
If this was a comic book origin story, it might not be far off from tales like being bitten by a radioactive spider and suddenly possessing spider-like characteristics. Heck speaking of, surely Johansson’s recurring role as the Black Widow in various Marvel Comics movies has prepared her for roles like Lucy. But this isn’t a superhero movie, nor a Breaking Bad episode, nor Johansson as the Black Widow again. It is a tale that is so cheesy and absurd and bullshitted, that it befuddles even comic book reality.
Much like Breaking Bad’s Walter White’s lung cancer getting the better of him at his peak, our Lucy realizes quickly that as she achieves 100% brain utilization—with some chemical stimulation—she is also quickly declining in mortality. She seeks the assistance of Prof. Norman (Morgan Freeman), the movie world’s foremost expert on the human brain, to understand her situation and impart all this knowledge she has quickly accumulated like a Google search engine spider, before her decaying demise. Meanwhile she is being chased by well-funded, well-armed, and well-dressed Korean gangsters, whom probably have no idea what that blue CP-whatever-4 crystal meth crap can do.
Of course Hollywood has a long tradition of making shit up and expecting us to suspend our sense of reality and consume their alternate fantasy realities not to be taken seriously. I will say foremost that the 10% of Hollywood’s cognitive capacity continues to produce enough shit to keep filling episodes of MythBusters.
Suspend our reality? That’s easy to say with a Marvel Comics movie. With Lucy however, I find that impossible. You lost me at being all philosophical about evolution, the human brain and its capabilities and potential. The movie’s trying to sound smart was downright annoying (and one of my pet peeves is when people try to sound smart and knowledgable about stuff they know nothing about or are bullshitting), and borders on intellectually insulting. And it just goes downhill from there as the film entertains its docile audience with ridiculous invented facts, cheesy dialogue throughout, and silly cliche action stunts, all of which, much like human civilization and its accomplishments, are all products of this 10% we keep hearing about, yes? You might as well spend the whole movie telling me a piece of stone is capable of having a consciousness. It’s one thing to give Lucy the ability to mentally control matter and energy with her Nirvana-level of consciousness, but another when you depict her able to read languages she never understood before, speed-read and speed-hack on a laptop or two as if it came natural to her—totally lost me there. The scene in the airplane where Lucy starts disintegrating is one of the peaks of the movie’s lousy creative vision—and, can you get any more cheesy with that climax time-travel scene with the ape that references Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ Sistine Chapel painting? That the film exhibits terrible editing quality—perhaps because our director Luc Besson is more concerned with special effects and making part of the film feel like an old school Discovery Channel special (or a Korn music video) than portraying a coherent package where I actually understand why the characters’ interactions—doesn’t help hold it together, as the movie is already in pieces to begin with and disintegrates on its own disorienting fast-pacedness. Besson’s idiosyncratic filmmaking style doesn’t hold this one up as it might have did with the Transporter series or other of his action hits.
This ain’t no Transporter either. In many ways, Lucy feels like it wants to be like The Matrix, its influence is evident in the action scenes combined with the film’s deep thinking and contemporary sci-fi setting. In other ways, I see elements reminiscent of Oldboy, that Korean gangster cult classic that many gwai-lo like to think is the best Korean film ever. You have for example the prison cell scene that feel like the Oldboy hotel room, as well as the general idea of an ordinary average person becoming this vengeful beast who will stop for nothing until revenge against their captors is complete. Moreover.. oh wait, isn’t the guy playing Mr. Jang also in Oldboy? Yes he is, what a fuckin coincidence!
I guess we’re now at 12% Hollywood cognitive capacity? Or maybe not, seeing that I take offense at Asians portrayed as the movie villains.
We can only assume that Lucy used her newfound abilities to charm the Parisian policeman Pierre (Amr Waked) into becoming her personal bodyguard and drug mule, for what else can explain why he is so fucking docile throughout the film? Then again, all of the characters are very stick-figure one-dimensional and lacking in character.
One person I really don’t understand the point of having is the professor, Morgan Freeman’s character. He seems to exist only a plot device to help us understand Lucy’s mental case, but that’s about it. You have this legendary actor who’s portrayed Nelson Mandela in another movie for fuck’s sakes, sounding almighty smart in the beginning (and doing a good job at it) merely by reading off whatever intelligent crap Besson has conjured up about the brain. And then when he meets Lucy, he does next to nothing except provide commentary about what is happening to Lucy as if he knew exactly what was happening even though he doesn’t really know. The guy ultimately has no answers to the questions posed in the film. I look at this role as one of the least remarkable of Freeman’s otherwise remarkable career. Same goes for anyone else appearing in this film.
As Lucy’s mental abilities goes from naive ignorance to total absurdity, the equally cheesy and cliche amount of special CGI effects, ridiculous depictions of technology uses, and action sequences like the high-speed cop car chase scene, speaks in vain to the ‘thriller’ aspect of the movie, generally unimpressive and unconvincing. The visuals are so stunning though, you’d wonder where that 10% was really spent.
Lucy falls conveniently within the growing ‘femme fatale’ and ‘girls kicking ass’ sector of Hollywood, a genre per se that generally is made to appeal to men, as they are made from a male gaze and thus offers a false sense of female empowerment and equality. If it was a woman making this film instead of a man, or perhaps even an Asian woman, we may get a very different approach.
Which is to say overall, Lucy exemplifies everything that is wrong or lacking in the mainstream entertainment industry’s level of creativity. It is a barely passable dumb and trashy, unimaginative Hollywood A-list B-movie that reminds itself of its own multimillion-dollar fuelled stupidity while trying to be smart and badass in a Matrix kind of way, falling apart much like Lucy did in that airplane lavatory scene, and finished with a bland anticlimatic letdown of a meaningless conclusion saying much of nothing.
Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what we’ve done with it. Much like this hubristic movie, it looks like fuck.
It’s hard to not get tired of seeing Scarlett’s face though. But I’ll stick with the Avengers, thanks."HEISENBERG IS EVERYWHERE." [4.9/10]
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