So you’re telling me the entire meaning and beauty of the universe is encapsulated in Scarlett Johansson, yeah, that sounds about right
“Lucy” is Luc Besson’s metaphysical look into the meaning of existence, being, and the concept of God, all masquerading as a Scarlett Johansson action movie. The film follows a women caught up in a drug deal gone wrong who turns the tables on her captors when she undergoes a mind bending transformation. What happens next challenges the very laws of physics and human experience, as well as my ability to decipher exactly what philosophy I’m being shown here.
I mean, if nothing else it’s nice to have a movie that makes you think, so lets start there. “Lucy” is one of those movies you could spend hours trying to figure out its meaning and wondering if every revelation you have is something intended by story teller or something your own brain just decided to make up. Concepts like humanity, immortality, omniscience, deity, evolution, and transcendence are just a few of the things touched on here, and are done so in increasingly mind bending and beautiful ways with some very well done effects emphasizing the physical realities of a metaphysical endeavor. I’m a sucker for a movie like this, and have been theorizing about who Lucy was and what it means since I walked out of the theater. But it isn’t just a science lecture, it also tries to be an action movie as well, and thanks to Scarlett Johansson it may just succeed on both accounts. She’s the best thing about this movie, moving through this transformation in a way that feels believable and meaningful. She’s asked to do a lot here and I think she comes through as both the action goddess who best the bad guys and the evolving goddess who sees the world better than any human ever has.
But depending on which of those movies you came in expecting you may be disappointed. The hard part about trying to do both the edge of the seat action and depth of the mind philosophy is that the end of the film you have to choose which one you want to emphasize. What is this movie really about? And for Besson he seems to clearly want it to be about the thought experiment more than the action, meaning the bang bang takes a back seat to the big bang by the time we get towards the end. If you only came to see Scarlett kick some butt, you may not want a scientific exploration of intellect as it relates to evolution and human immortality but that’s the route Besson has decided to emphasize. The worst thing about that decision is that these intellectual exercises are ultimately unsatisfying in a dramatic way even if they are intriguing to think about. We become unsure of what we’re rooting for or how we’re supposed to identify with this character as she changes and the film becomes more scientific treatise than story driven plot.
Overall, Lucy is a doozy of a movie, with an incredible performance by Scarlett Johansson. Though the fast paced action eventually gives way to the philosophical thought experiment, it still scrambled my brain enough to earn a B.