Scarlett Johansson's 'Lucy' leaves us hanging

Friday , July 25, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner movie critic

The Earth is flat, the sun rotates around it and humans only use 10 percent of their brain’s capacity. Lovely theories — all of them wrong.

So when a film’s premise is based on the “10 percent brain myth,” well it feels like we’re getting off on the wrong foot here, but I’ll play along for the sake of the story, such as it is.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), of the new movie of the same name, is duped into delivering a locked case to a mob boss in Taiwan. She has no idea what’s in the case, but she’s given the combination while the mobsters take cover on the odd chance it may not contain what they’re expecting.

That’s no comfort to the trembling Lucy, who reluctantly opens the attache only to discover four large plastic bags filled with a blue crystal-like substance called CPH 4. She’s told it’s a new synthesized drug that will soon become all the rage in Western Europe.

And if she could perform just one more simple task ...

Yeah, Lucy wakes up in a hotel room with bandages on her stomach, where a packet of the new drug has been placed inside. She and three men, also with inserted packages, will fly to various locations in Europe, be met by other mobsters, have the drugs removed and likely be killed for their efforts.

Except Lucy is taken to a holding cell where she is inexplicably beaten — begging the question, wouldn’t they know that kicking her in the stomach might damage the merchandise inside? Apparently they don’t and it does, as the bag breaks and the chemicals are let loose into Lucy’s system — instant brain-power improvement achieved.

So now that she’s smarter than everyone else, it’s not difficult for her to escape, find out where the other drug mules are going and make arrangements with the French police to have them all brought to Paris, where Lucy is headed to consult with the world’s foremost brain guy, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman).

The more drug she takes, the greater percentage of brain capacity she develops, and we and she start to see some pretty amazing stuff. Although, as she becomes more aware of her surroundings, she oddly starts losing her compassion for her fellow man, even though she states “she feels everything.”

So many people are put in harm’s way by her superior skills and intellect that you begin to wonder if acquiring all of this vast knowledge is really such a good thing.

Then the film suddenly becomes this massive “what-if” special effect of all-knowing intelligence relative to time and space that is basically “mind-blowing,” while an army of mobsters square off with the gaggle of policemen trying to protect Lucy.

So much waste and loss of life — and for what?

Good question. Few answers. ’Cause “Lucy” leaves you hanging.

Or maybe my 10 percent brain couldn’t make heads nor tails out of where this film was trying to go. You lost me, Luce!

Here’s hoping YOU have better luck!


  • THE FILM: “Lucy”
  • OUR RATING: **1/2
  • STARRING: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked and Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • BEHIND THE SCENES: Written and directed by Luc Besson (“The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc,” “The Fifth Element”); filmed in Taiwan and Paris.
  • PLAYING: Layton Hills 9, Syracuse 6, Megaplex 13, Cinemark Farmington, Layton Tinseltown, Newgate Tinseltown, Megaplex 14, Walker 8. Runs 90 minutes.
  • MPAA RATING: R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.

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