My theater got zero movies that I wanted to see this week. I contemplated staying home and reviewing a much more promising looking DVD, but my friends were in town. So I let them pick the movie (well, to be fair, the decision was made on the basis of start time rather than content). Anyway, they picked Lucy, the movie I thrashed in my trailer reviews.
A coerced drug mule goes after the Triad who kidnapped her when a drug bag leaks and gives her superpowers.
Sometimes there’s a small possibility that I might like a movie I didn’t like as a trailer. This is usually because the trailer failed to get at the essence of the story. But with Lucy this was not possible. With Lucy, the premise is the problem. It’s just another revenge movie, but based on the fallacy that we only use 10% of our brains.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a dim bulb who lets her deadbeat boyfriend Richard (Pilou Asbaek) handcuff a briefcase full of drugs to her wrist. Instead of going to the nearest hardware store for some bolt cutters, she delivers it to Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi) and wakes up with a scar on her belly like a bit player in a bad horror movie. Mr. Jang jokes that he hasn’t stolen her organs, but that would have made more sense than the truth.
Oh yes, I routinely murder my employees. It saves me having to pay benefits.
Mr. Jang kidnaps white people and forces them to mule his new blue Kool-Aid, because I guess there are no Richard-like deadbeats anywhere in the world who would do it for money (Jang’s goons have shot/blown up/hacked them all to pieces). This, of course, is a stupid business model that makes no sense. The only reason it’s written like that is so Luc Besson’s hero could be pure of heart.
And absent of brain. Durrrrr.
Mr. Jang hands his victims passports and plane tickets and sends them on their way. But first, he sends the now extremely valuable Lucy to be beaten up by some sketchbags in a concrete room. Why? Because somebody needed to rupture the drug bag and give Lucy her superpowers. And also because it wouldn’t be a female lead action movie directed by a man if she didn’t use her sexy wiles on deadbeats while handcuffed to a chair.
Hey baby, want to make sexytimes? I haven’t showered in three days.
Prior to exposure to the drug, Lucy was only using 10% of her brain (I believe it – she’s pretty dumb). After exposure to the drug, which is produced by pregnant women while they’re brewing babies, her percentage starts climbing. This gives her new senses and powers according to a scale Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) invented while talking out of his ass in a lecture hall one day.
One day I took a bite of a Twinkie and I thought… what if I could eat 100% of this Twinkie? Would I be god?
Now, the notion that humans only use 10% of their brains is not a fact. It is a common science myth that you would expect anyone writing science fiction to know about. But there’s a lot of things that Luc Besson doesn’t know about science. Including the fact that being really smart doesn’t make you telekinetic, speed up your internet connection, give you extra fingers, or negate gravity.
So, magic. The name of the drug you were given is ‘magic’ and this is a fantasy movie.
What it does do, according to this movie, is turn you into a robotic asshole. Now that Lucy is using more of her brain, she can “feel everything.” She describes all the things she can “feel” (trees, the universe, etc.) in a hilarious phone call to her mom that should have had her mom asking if she was high on shrooms. Because Lucy can “feel everything” the touch of her clothes on her body should have been agony, but no, we need to do more surgery and fighting, so instead Lucy is impervious to pain.
She’ll need it when the shell casing pops out of that gun she’s holding
like a dumbass ganster and burns her face.
Lucy is now super smart and enlightened, so of course the first thing she does is go on a revenge mission to Mr. Jang’s house, because revenge is about the most enlightened thing characters are capable of in Luc Besson movies.
My name ees Lucy Montoya. You keel my stomach. Prepare to die.
Lucy is also a blue Kool-Aid addict, so she has to track down the other mules to steal their portions. Her superpowers can’t help her there, I guess, so she recruits Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked), a French policeman who for some reason (i.e. the movie needs him to) has authority in Germany and Italy too. For the same reason, Del Rio agrees to help Lucy, despite the fact that she is a violent psychopath who is looking for drugs.
DEL RIO: Let me call the other cop cars and tell them to stop chasing us.
LUCY: No, hang on, I’ll just make them all crash into each other.
There are a lot of people who would call Lucy progressive or even feminist because the main character is a woman, but in fact Lucy is about as regressive as you can get. Sure Lucy is a woman, but in order to become capable she has to give up personality, emotions, and morality. She also uses ‘feminine wiles’ as a weapon and keeps a superfluous dude around for the purpose of kissing.
I bet I could give myself extra vaginas too. Then I could bone all the guys in this movie!
Lucy is also one of only a handful of women in the movie. The only other women are nurses, flight attendants, and people walking down the street. All the scientists are men. All the cops are men. All the doctors are men. And all the goons who are chasing her are men. The second largest female role in the movie goes to Caroline (Analeigh Tipton), the clueless roommate Lucy talks to for about five minutes after she escapes from the drug lord.
COP #1: Hey, I heard a woman applied to be on the force.
COP #2: A woman? You mean, one of those things we have to rescue?
And despite all her awesome superpowers, there’s surprisingly little action in Lucy. Where’s the bullet time? Where are the fireballs and portals and people’s heads exploding? They’re all left by the wayside as the movie tries to be ‘deep’ by intercutting Lucy’s story with scenes from Animal Planet. Lucy has awesome powers but wastes them listening to people’s cell phone calls, putting goons to sleep, and convincing flight attendants to let her keep her tray table down during landing.
The question is, will YOU hate Lucy? Maybe not. Your hatred of the movie will be in direct proportion to your knowledge of science, awareness of sexism in film, and the number of better magic brain power movies you’ve seen. So if you haven’t watched Push or The Matrix, are a dude who is clueless about women’s issues, and slept through your high school science class, you’ll enjoy Lucy.