In the film “Defending Your Life,” Albert Brooks told us that most people only use 3% of their brains. That percentage is the reason we all deal with fear, because “that’s what little brains do!” In the latest film from Luc Besson that average number has risen to 10%. But what if it were more? 20%? 40%? What if a human being could utilize 100% of their brain’s function? In the new film, “Lucy,” the title character finds out.
Ever since man began evolving, he (and she) had to continually learn and know more than their ancestors. Whether it’s first discovering the uses for fire or figuring out how to solve the Rubik’s Cube, our noggins contain a pretty important piece of our lives. When we first meet Lucy she is being hustled by a new boyfriend to take a locked case into a very public place and give it to someone. The more she declines the more desperate he becomes. Finally, without warning, he handcuffs the case to her wrist and forces her into the building. Things only get worse when, after delivering the package, she wakes up and learns that a bag of a new synthetic drug has been surgically implanted in her stomach. She and three other people are to fly to their respective countries, now acting as drug mules. However, when the bag inside Lucy ruptures the contents inside causes her to, literally, think outside the box.
Smartly conceived, “Lucy” is one of those great “what if” films you occasionally stumble across that has you thinking long after it’s ended. It’s almost like a hyped up version of the book “Flowers for Algernon,” which featured a mentally diminished character who, after being given an experimental drug, became a genius, albeit temporarily. Here, Lucy doesn’t regress. Within moments she is able to learn entire languages, diagnose medical problems and interface with electrical currents and radio waves. She contacts a well- known professor (Freeman) who has previously theorized what is now a reality. But will he be able to help her?
The film succeeds as well as it does thanks to the work of Johannson. She is often on screen alone, with the audience hearing her thoughts and watching her actions. If she wasn’t believable this would have been a very boring and one-note film. Freeman brings along his usual gravitas, which fits his character well. The one thing that throws off the smoothness of the film is that occasionally the movie will go from a “Luc Besson” film to a “LUC BESSON FILM!!” Best known for such films as “The Professional” and “The Fifth Element,” “Lucy” occasionally jumps genres and becomes an adrenaline filled action picture. Lots of gunplay and a really unnecessary car chase that almost seems forced takes you out of the story momentarily. It’s not that the scenes aren’t well done. They are. It’s just that they almost seem to have come from another film.
That being said, I still recommend the film. Its premise alone makes it an interesting watch. Though perhaps a little more “thought” could have gone into it.