First of all, it’s wrong to say we only use 10% of our brain, or “cognitive capacity”, as it’s called here. The fact is, just sitting around listening to music lights up a good portion of the brain with activity, and concentrating on solving a problem involves even more, much more than a mere 10%. But it sounds good, doesn’t it? Admittedly it makes us seem like underachievers, but it also lets us imagine a time when the world will be a utopia simply because we’ve all figured out how to unlock our full potential.
First of all, it’s wrong to say we only use 10% of our brain, or “cognitive capacity”, as it’s called here. The fact is, just sitting around listening to music lights up a good portion of the brain with activity, and concentrating on solving a problem involves even more, much more than a mere 10%. But it sounds good, doesn’t it? Admittedly it makes us seem like underachievers, but it also lets us imagine a time when the world will be a utopia simply because we’ve all figured out how to unlock our full potential. Or possibly a time when we’ve all ended up with super powers and can kill each other in new and exciting ways. One or the other.
In this case, Scarlett Johansson of the Avengers, here playing title character Lucy, gets herself super powers thanks to some Korean mobsters. Not that they meant to give her super powers, of course. She’s in Taiwan, studying something or other, when her new boyfriend Richard (Pilou Asbæk), who’s apparently, um, a bit shady, asks her to deliver a briefcase to the aforementioned Korean mobsters. They’re not very happy with him, he admits, but they’ll be glad to see a pretty blonde making the delivery. It’ll be a snap.
Obviously Richard couldn’t be more wrong, and things turn ugly. The ‘paperwork’ he says in in the briefcase turns out to be a new street drug called CPH4, and along with three other unfortunates, Lucy now gets to help Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi) smuggle the stuff into Europe. Then things turn even more ugly and Lucy ends up getting a massive dose of the stuff in her system, which turns her eyes the most amazing shade of blue for a few seconds and then gives her super powers. Kids, don’t try this at home.
CPH4, by the way, is sort of half-real. It’s supposed to be a super growth hormone, basically, though there isn’t anything called that and I’m guessing that it’s an alias for something known as hCG, which is currently most famous as part of a controversial diet plan. The mobsters’ pet doctor, who doesn’t get a name but is played by Julian Rhind-Tutt of Stardust, says that they really need a catchier name and wonders if Lucy has any better ideas. Both sets of initials are somewhat uninspiring, it’s true.
Meanwhile, Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me) as Professor Norman is lecturing on the “10% of our brains” myth and suggesting what might happen if we could figure out how to harness more of our cognitive capacity. It’s a shame he’s spent 20 years working on this stuff since the basis for it completely wrong, but oh, well. He’s still Morgan Freeman. And as Lucy starts using more and more of her brain power (you just have to roll with it), she’s less and less sure what to do with it all, and feels less and less human.
Analeigh Tipton (Warm Bodies) shows up as Lucy’s friend Caroline for about ten seconds, and Amr Waked of Contagion is the Paris police captain who gets to help Lucy out. Well, is basically forced to help Lucy out at first, and then later, once she’s up around 60-70%, he just gets to watch while she does everything.
Let me just add that it’s really a very strange movie. It’s Luc Besson, so it’s a little like The Fifth Element, except stranger, or at least strange in a different way. It’s also weirdly philosophical, so if that isn’t your thing you probably won’t like it very much. There’s plenty of shooting and such, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes things slow way down for a while while Lucy talks about things like “feeling the gravity” and how time is the only true measurement of anything. But I liked it, strangeness, bad premise, and all, so three and a half out of five. Luc Besson movies are always something of a leap of faith, but this one mostly worked out all right.