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MOVIES: Lucy – Stupidity posing as entertainment – Review

Any respect director Luc Besson earned from his breakthrough film Leon: The Professional (1994) and to which he’s been clinging for the last 20 years has been completely obliterated with his latest work of nonsensical garbage, Lucy. The biggest problem is not that Lucy is a bad movie – which it is – it’s that Lucy is utterly and indefensibly stupid. The entire premise of the film is based on flawed, pop pseudo-science that has been debunked time and time again and it gets worse from there. Most of the film’s “science” operates under a level of understanding below that of a fifth grader and Besson is either ignorant of his continual flawed logic or thinks so little of his audience’s intelligence that he expects they won’t notice.

The plot of Lucy is predicated on the misconception that, as humans, we only use ten percent of our brain’s cognitive abilities. This fallacy has been definitively debunked and, in 2014, is akin to believing the Sun rotates around the Earth. The film’s dubious scientific basis is spoon fed to us by Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) as he pontificates to a large audience about the potential biological and psychic (yes, psychic; not psychological) effects of enhancing the human brain’s cognitive powers.

Professor Norman’s theories are proven to be mostly correct (in the ludicrous functioning of the universe of the film) when Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) receives a massive exposure to a new synthetic drug that steadily increases her brain’s functioning. With each incremental increase (which Besson is sure to insert on screen for those keeping track), her superpowers grow. Yep, superpowers. Lucy is immediately a martial arts master and expert marksman, able to take down a handful of criminal types during an escape from the imprisonment in which she inexplicably finds herself.

First, Lucy needs to get the remainder of the drug out of her body – the bag she was carrying in her abdomen ruptured, releasing the chemicals – and then she track down Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), the crime lord who forced her to be a drug mule in the first place. Even though Lucy has killed at least ten people by this point in the movie, she lets Mr. Jang live (because Besson needed more story for later). Lucy is soon able to telepathically manipulate electronic signals of every type and she uses this ability to connect with a Paris police captain, Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked), to intercept the remaining drug mules who are going to introduce the new product all over Europe.

Lucy is just dumb. There is no other way to describe it. Written and directed by Besson, it creates a world that has no rules or laws of nature and so his heroine has unlimited powers and potential for infinite growth. This does not make for an engaging film because anyone could come up with fantastical things for a character to do. Even a garbage heap like Transcendence set limitations and barriers for the nearly omnipotent central character. I thought it would be years before we saw a film worse than Transcendence, but Besson has delivered within months. The idea that a synthetic chemical could affect a person’s biology is grounded in reality and a concept that could be pushed to fun and intriguing limits. But, a person’s biology, no matter how artificially altered, does not outweigh the physical laws of the universe. This is a distinction Besson is unwilling to consider.

Whether Johansson received any sort of direction or suggestions from is questionable. As Lucy’s intelligence grows she becomes less human and more robotic. However, her motivations become rather hazy as she takes a needlessly circuitous path to end up face-to-face with Norman. Her primary goal is also never explained even during the film’s laughable finale. There’s not much Johansson could plausibly do with the role, so she just channels Sheldon Cooper and hopes for the best.

Without a single redeemable quality, Lucy has secured its place as the worst film of 2014 so far and quite possibly the stupidest film ever made.

Grade: F