At one point in the movie, Morgan Freeman lectures an auditorium filled with adults about the human brain and intelligence. We only use a small portion of the brain. Who knows what would happen if we could get access to 100%. Lucy aims to show us one human working with exactly that percentage of her brain’s capacity.
Nature, Morgan explains, when conditions are adversarial, (queue up images of earth quakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, fires) passes on what it can to the next generation. When conditions are congenial humans reproduce, but wait — isn’t that the same as what he said about adversarial conditions?
Thank Freeman for not making us think of this weakness in the movie and its pretense of being something more than another action thriller with great special effects. And thank Johansson for carrying the rest of the picture, with her determined gaze as the pupils of her eyes are made to turn blue, black, slit like a goat’s horizontally then vertically like a snake’s.
Lucy, the main character, starts out as a student slacker in Taipei, with bad taste in boyfriends. Her latest guy, Richard, wants her to deliver a briefcase to a very corporate looking hotel, but he refuses to tell her why he can’t do the job himself. She smells a rat and tries to get out of this suspicious task, but Richard makes sure that she can’t. As she enters the lobby of the hotel, dreading what is to come, Johansson makes us feel her fear. In scene after scene to come, she convinces everyone of her courage and invincibility, thanks to a wonder drug in the form of blue powder. A cabal of Chinese gangsters are trying to export it to Europe, using Lucy and others as mules. The drug is inserted into their abdomens, and some of it escapes into her bloodstream, which makes her superhuman.
Johansson is a commanding actress, the perfect choice for the part of Lucy. As long as you don’t think too hard about what it means, the movie is the perfect summer escape.