Dr. Donna Copeland’s

2nd OPINION

SCARLETT JOHANSSON   MORGAN FREEMAN

LUCY

 It shouldn’t be surprising that “Lucy” easily ranks as one of the worst films of 2014, due to one simple credit: Luc Besson.  Who is he, you might ask?  Besson is the ex-husband of Mila Jovovich; he wrote the scripts and directed her in cult hit “The Fifth Element” and major flop “The Messenger” in the late 90’s.  However, it’s the more recent material that has corroded Besson’s image and career, which includes all the “Transporter” films, that awful “From Paris with Love” Travolta film, and let us not forget last year’s mob disappointment, “The Family”, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert DeNiro.  If that weren’t enough, “Lucy” now joins another one of my worst films of the year, “3 Days to Kill”, which was, you guessed it, written by Luc Besson.

 Through a twist of fate, American tourist Lucy (Johansson) is subjected to a drug called CPH4, which is the synthetic version of the material that pregnant women make in small doses during their pregnancy.  Humans only use 10% of their brain and this drug, manufactured by the Chinese, will allow its victim to access more for a limited period of time before it destroys its host.  Lucy, realizing what is happening to her, and becoming aware of all the mysteries of the universe and the origin of life, contacts Prof. Norman (Freeman) whose research into the human brain and its evolution will be the only one who can understand what is happening to her.

 At first, “Lucy” appears structurally similar to “Salt”, starring Angelina Jolie, who was originally tapped for Lucy but dropped out after reading the script. This film quickly reveals itself as more of a science fiction film than a female action vehicle.  Thankfully, it runs at only 90 minutes.  Lucy becomes a film about Besson’s misunderstanding of the brain shoved into a mainstream movie with no real purpose.  Lucy doesn’t have a goal or a purpose; she isn’t really out for revenge because she doesn’t have long to live.  As her brainpower nears the 100% level (which is cleverly splashed on the screen during moments of tension), she will die.  Lucy is basically a mutant; Besson just rips off the entire concept of The X-Men and throws it into this poorly developed character with blond hair and big boobs. Johnasson is a good actress, but she wasn’t cast for her talent here.

 The moment Lucy begins using the same powers as Jean Grey, Besson’s lack of creativity for the character is obvious.  For instance, when Lucy starts vomiting rainbow fire, I realized that he has just created a mindless film with no social commentary and has no understanding of superheroes. One of the most annoying elements of the film occurs when she is powerful enough to knock over a group of policemen by waving her hand in a millisecond; Yet, ten minutes later, with more brainpower, she throws the Chinese villains up in the air, fights them, wasting her precious time, and more importantly, ours.  Silly isn’t a strong enough word for the stupidity that is displayed here.  Johansson has played a superhero twice this year and one alien; I think she needs to do something different.

 Final Thought – Easily the stupidest film of 2014.

By: Dustin Chase

Grade F


 I had heard about the fact that human beings use only a small percentage of the brain’s capacity.  Well, with Lucy, Luc Besson has created a fantasy about what might happen if we used 10%, 20%, 40%, and on to 100% of it.  His fantasy cleverly vacillates between the micro (cells) and the macro (cosmology), with stunning kaleidoscopic special effects to illustrate both chaos and order that could ensue.  It reminds of Malick’s Tree of Life, but the special effects here are much more kinetic.  And Besson factors in sociological repercussions, whereas Malick focused on the family.

 Lucy has some extremely violent, macabre, and outright gross scenes, so the viewer is forewarned.  Right from the beginning, Lucy (Johansson) is tricked by a man she had been dating for a week to deliver a package for him.  There are bloody scenes even before she is kidnapped and hauled off to a hotel room, where she is manhandled and forced to go to work.  “Work” is transporting a surgically implanted drug in her abdomen to another country.  Along the way, the package starts leaking, and it turns out to be something called CPH 4, which gives her superhuman powers by expanding her capacity to use her brain.

 Once Lucy comprehends what has happened, she proceeds to overcome her captors and help science and police enforcement along the way.  And what an adventure it will be.  Lucy’s feats are highly entertaining and satisfying—especially ones against the men who abused her—and seeing her inner experience captured with remarkable special effects.  I could have done without the unbelievable car chase along the streets of Paris, which seems to be mandatory in almost any film nowadays, and is something of a trademark of Besson.  And some of the story simply does not make sense.  For instance, Lucy’s sensory-motor capabilities are intensely sharpened, yet she does not feel pain, fear, or desire, she says.  And despite the latter, she revels in the memory of her mother’s kisses, and she abruptly kisses a bewildered policeman “for the memory.”  Oh, and she walks unimpeded through a hospital toting an enormous firearm.

 These are small drawbacks, though, given the scope of the film in demonstrating how science can be used for good or ill, how all of the elements in life are connected in some way, and how powerful tools in the wrong hands can be destructively chaotic.  

 Scarlett Johansson as Lucy is a marvel to behold, especially considering some of her other roles, such as the sweet, understanding telephone app in Her, the alien in Under the Skin, the fiance of the porn addict, Don Jon, Janet Leigh in Hitchcock, and Cristina in Vickie Cristina Barcelona—to name just a few.  Lucy is more akin to her role as Black Widow in the action movies (The Avengers, Captain America, e.g.), but she has an entirely different function here.  Her range is phenomenal.  

 We have to smile when we see Morgan Freeman (Through the Wormhole Freeman!) being a medical scientist who is exploring the capacities of the human brain and lectures on the beginnings of man and earth.  He is perfect for the role, and exemplifies the good scientist who is interested more in knowledge than his own gain.

 Music by Eric Serra and Cinematography by Thierry Arbogast—frequent collaborators of Besson—round out the impressive cast and crew of Lucy.

 A gripping fantasy about the brain.

Grade:  B+

By Donna R. Copeland