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Lucy Thinks You’re Stupid


lucymxdwn1Let’s be honest. The structure of a movie plot often follows the same outline. Occasionally filmmakers will play with the timeline (Irréversible; Two for the Road) or create something experimental (Stanley Kubrick’s filmography). Since the formula often repeats, viewers can guess where things are going and discern the cause and effect relationship of scenes. That being said, there is usually an unwritten agreement between filmmaker and viewer stating that the film will give clues, but it is up to the audience to find them and solve the puzzle.

Lucy is not that type of movie. Luc Besson’s attempt at answering life’s most meaningful questions is an exposé on the concept of “hear dog, see dog” and an opportunity to give a huge middle finger to clues.

In this movie, when a character utters a word or phrase, the scene will quickly cut away to an example in case you misunderstood. Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) mentions reproduction; Besson cuts to a montage of animals mid-coitus. Norman discusses the control of matter; Besson cuts to an image of a magician making a cloth levitate.

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At every step of the way, the director feeds the audience the proper interpretation on a silver platter. When Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) first encounters Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), she is scared and helpless…much like a naïve gazelle in the desert unknowingly under meticulous watch by a cheetah. These juxtapositions are endless. So endless, in fact, that I couldn’t help but think of the film as a Family Guy episode. I could imagine Peter Griffin prepping the sequences, “This is almost as bad as that time I was a gazelle in the Sahara.” Cut to a gazelle being devoured by a cheetah…hilarity ensues.

The whole stylistic choice is truly unfortunate because the concept—as scientifically inaccurate as it may be—is fun. Lucy is forced into a drug smuggling operation wherein a baggie of CPH4 (a blue, crystalline mind-altering drug) is inserted into her stomach. When a moronic guard (in a scene that has almost no lead-in) decides to kick her in the stomach, the baggie leaks and all hell breaks loose in her body. She progressively gains more control of her brain—going from 10% upwards—and subsequently the environment around her.

From there, Lucy’s mission is…completely unclear, which goes against the insane simplicity of plot formation in the beginning. At first, her mission is to escape. Check. Then she wants to retrieve the baggies that were inserted in three other men who had different European destinations. With a little help from Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked), check. Why does she need the baggies? Because Luc Besson is French and has no time for your questions (and also because apparently when her cells start to break apart, jamming her face in this same aqua-colored rock candy cures it. Seriously, people, this movie makes no sense.)

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Next, Lucy—now on the verge of losing her humanity under the immense knowledge she’s accruing rather than understanding humanity at a deeper level—must contact Professor Norman to pass along the knowledge of the universe. Uhh, sure. How any of this flows logically is completely beyond me. It goes from an action movie to philosophical circle jerk in seconds, with nary a punch thrown. Did you want to see Ms. Johansson kick ass? Too bad, she’s writhing in awkward pain, eating Walter White’s meth like a two-year-old eats cake, and flicking men away with her fingers like a goddamn Jedi.

Besson hands us everything except for the purpose of the film. By the end, Lucy is flying through time like something between God and Professor X. She is speaking to us without emotion, but really, it’s condescending in a way that insinuates we are living improperly. After spending over an hour following Lucy on this inane journey, the film closes with an uninteresting gunfight and not a care in the world what happens to any of these characters or the questions they pose.

There is no poignancy. There is no “aha” moment. Lucy just drops the mic—or in this case, hands off a flash drive—and…ends.

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