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Yeah well, we all know why we’re really here.

There’s deep and then there’s “deeep”. The latter is used sarcastically when someone has said something they may think is deep, but probably is not. Enter Lucy, a film that goes so far beyond “deeep” that it can’t help but create an entirely new term: Lucy-deep.

Does this mean that Lucy is a silly movie? Why yes, it does. But it also has an excessive amount of fun and audacity with that silliness. It is thus that one uses the term Lucy-deep with fondness rather than scorn (well, maybe a little scorn).

Lucy is sort of bad, but sort of fun too. It’s not a “so bad it’s good” movie but it’s not quite a near miss movie either. It’s weird because it’s so bonkers and so proud of itself that you almost can’t help grinning instead of cringing, even when it’s doing its level best to make you cringe so hard your face turns inside out.

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She starts off as a perfect metaphor for the brains in this movie.

The trouble with Lucy doesn’t start immediately. In fact, it gets off to a rather good start. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a hard-partying student about to get mixed up with some bad people. Her boyfriend, another expatriate living in Taiwan, has her deliver something to a bunch of Korean gangsters led by Min-Sik Choi (Oldboy!). There’s a long but tense scene as they figure out she’s not a threat and is actually carrying a bunch of drugs. How much shit they put her through is probably meant to explain her ruthless and summary hostility toward Asian people throughout the rest of the film, but it definitely feels like material that belongs to a different movie.

In this movie, Lucy ends up with a gut full of synthetic hormones that seem to work as a drug when snorted, but as a cognitive enhancer when mixing directly with the bloodstream. Lucy is injured and the drug gets into her in an… erm… transformative sort of way. After that, she’s on a quest to survive both the side-effects and the gangsters who are after her. She also has to keep up with the cognitive, physiological, and mental changes that pile up as her brain operates at higher percentages of its “neural capacity”.

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Her enhancements are a hodgepodge of cool-looking but largely unexplored magic superpowers.

And that’s where the problems begin. Lucy is basically Broscience: The Movie and that in itself isn’t the worst thing I can imagine. In fact, that could be a pretty cool movie (call me Hollywood, I’m not busy). I mean, we can all suspend some disbelief now and then and it’s no problem. Most people realize that the “we only use 10% of our brains” thing is a myth, though. To not only use that myth but to act like it’s some unexplained mystery of the human brain that can be unlocked with an amniotic hormone? A little much. That said, Lucy is so gleefully committed to this myth that it treats itself as profound and the audience as drooling morons. This is, again, not the worst thing I can imagine. But I mean, it does let you know what kind of movie this is.

Mixed in with the grinning, unapologetic bullshit are some intriguing half-ideas and rhetoric that make the whole cocktail sound more interesting than it is. This stuff comes out from Lucy, mostly, but Morgan Freeman is the perfect, utterly cynical choice to sell all this crap to an audience predisposed to believing everything he says because he’s Morgan fucking Freeman. The problem here is that the movie can’t finesse its way around its commitment. The more they have to raise the bar on what Lucy can do and how she explains shit, the more silly everything becomes. Except Scarlett Johansson has this uncanny ability to sell the tone of the dumb shit she’s saying, if not the words themselves (which are often the most face-palming ones possible to explain deep shit maaan to an audience).

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Ugh this scene. This fucking scene. People who were bothered by the distances in Gravity or the space jaunts in Guardians of the Galaxy are going to have a fucking meltdown.

That all might sound like criticism, but it’s kind of not. I mean, I just want people to understand what this movie is. It often doesn’t ask us to laugh along with it, but it doesn’t take itself 100% seriously either. As a result, laughing along with (and at) Lucy is the only reaction that makes sense.

If not for Johansson, Lucy might have just been a total misfire rather an interesting one. Her performance, even with the frequently braindead dialogue and script mechanics (arbitrary chase scenes, etc), totally anchors the role and therefore the movie. We can believe that Lucy is changing and becoming a god of some kind. Johansson sells the alien detachment, terrified self-awareness, and twitchy empowerment to a tee. She makes this, her third high profile science fiction role in less than a year, a character that justifies the movie. She’s that entertaining to watch here.

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Her expression here is perfect. It’s better in motion because of the twitching head, like she can barely keep it from vibrating off her shoulders in multiple dimensions some of which are full of sentient corn.

Aside from Johansson, there are basically no characters and very little of interest. There’s some flashy concepts, some cleverly conceived and somewhat cheeky visual gimmicks (like showing cheetahs and antelopes as Lucy is lured into her predicament) but the really crazy, really AWESOME shit happens late in the film as it completely gives itself over to bugfuckery. It’s an odd thing to experience, really, because even as Lucy creates a flash drive that is literally full/made of stars, she’s also experiencing a bunch of very awe-inspiring cosmic imagery that is executed so well that the awe becomes genuine. Only, it is also mixed in with the creeping realization that contrivance after contrivance has led to an underwhelming whole.

The contrivances are the real problem with this movie. As dumb as its premise and ideas are (and they really fucking are), it’s the lazy shit being done at the script level that threatens to sink the ship. I’ll give you an example.

There’s a chase sequence in the climax that is completely, ridiculously unnecessary. As is the gunfight and all the physical stakes that drive the ending. Why? Because Lucy inexplicably leaves the main villain alive. She kills pretty much everything she encounters after the drug gets into her, and it’s kind of entertaining to see how ruthless and reptilian she is about it, but the one guy she leaves alive is the guy who chases after her and causes a lot of deaths and discord. If not for this, she could have leisurely pursued the other packages of the drug and got the info to Doctor Morgan Freeman before her full apotheosis. But the movie needs momentum and the writers were too lazy to come up with a better reason for the gangster leader to still be alive. This kind of stupidity is the real problem. The other shit is kind of charming and it pays off well anyway. Who doesn’t want to see a movie where a drug that looks like Heisenberg’s blue crystal meth turns Scarlett Johannson into a super hero and then a god?

Not this guy.

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