Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbæk, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpheth, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Luca Angeletti
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Sci-fi action thriller written and directed by Luc Besson. The story centers on an innocent drug mule, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), who’s working for the mob. After she’s threatened Lucy agrees to transport an experimental drug which is surgically inserted into her stomach by the drug dealers. However when one of the drug dealers attacks and kicks her in the stomach the drug leaks into her system which then enables her unlock the full potential to her brain’s capacity transforming her into a metahuman, evolving beyond human logic with superhuman abilities such as being able to instantaneously absorb knowledge, moving objects with her mind and mind reading. Then in order to gain 100% of her brain’s capacity Lucy starts to search and round up any remaining supplies.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Lucy: [voice over] Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?
Richard: Lucy, it’s easy as pie. In and out, all done and dusted.
Lucy: Then why don’t you do it yourself?
Richard: The last thing the guy is expecting is a total tramp turning up to deliver the case. It’ll blow his mind, come on.
Lucy: What’s in it?
Richard: Sweetheart, don’t get paranoid on me, alright? You trust me, don’t you?
Lucy: Richard, I really do like you. But I have to take care of myself right now. I got to, I don’t know, I got to concentrate on so many things.
Richard: You know what, the other day I was in this museum, and you know what I found out?
Richard: The first ever woman was named Lucy.
Lucy: Is that supposed to make me feel better?
Richard: Yeah. No.
Lucy: What’s in the case?
Richard: I don’t know, it’s just some paperwork.
Lucy: Yeah, well let’s see it then.
Richard: It’s locked, and no one but Mr. Jang has the code. I’m just the delivery boy.
Lucy: How much do you get paid? I want to know, how much?
Richard: A thousand dollars.
Lucy: You get paid a thousand dollars for delivering paperwork, really?
Richard: I don’t know, it takes me ten minutes, and they pay me a grand and the rest is none of my business.
Lucy: Well, it’s not my business either, I’ll tell you now.
Richard: Lucy, honey, I’ve done this a dozen times. It’s paperwork. It’s probably some designs so they can copy them, that’s how it works in this country. Even my Stetson was made here, look.
Richard: [referring to his hat] It says so on the label, “Made in Taiwan.”
Lucy: So long, Cowboy, with the fake Stetson.
Richard: [stops her from leaving] Baby, please.
Lucy: Richard, I got to go.
[suddenly he handcuffs Lucy’s wrist to the handle of the briefcase]
Lucy: I can’t believe you did this to me.
Richard: I’ll be right here, you have my word.
Lucy: You’re word isn’t worth s**t!
Richard: It’s worth five hundred bucks, upfront.
Lucy: You’re an a**hole.
Richard: And you’re wonderful.
Lucy: Lucy. Yes, I’m Lucy. Please, there’s just been a terrible mistake. I’m just supposed to deliver this case. If you lost the key, you don’t have to chop off my hand, you can just cut the chain, okay?
[Jang wipes his hand with towel then looks at Lucy, who’s in tears]
Lucy: Please. I’m begging you, please.
Phone Voice Royal Suite: Mr. Jang wants to know what’s in the case?
Lucy: No, I don’t know what’s in the case.
Lucy: What’s really in here?
Phone Voice Royal Suite: Nothing dangerous.
Lucy: [referring to Jang] So why won’t he open it himself?
Phone Voice Royal Suite: He doesn’t trust Mr. Richard.
Lucy: Well, I don’t trust Richard either. I only dated him for a week.
Phone Voice Royal Suite: [as Lucy opens the case] Can you describe the contents of the case?
Lucy: It’s four plastic pouches filled with a blue powder. Like a, maybe a purple powder. I don’t know. Looks gross.
Phone Voice Royal Suite: Mr. Jan wants to offer you a job.
Lucy: A job? I don’t want a job!
[suddenly one of Jang’s men smacks her]
Professor Norman: If life starts approximately a billion years ago we will have to wait four hundred thousand years to see the aberration of the first nerve cells. This is where life as we know it begins. Brain’s in formation of only a few milligrams, it’s not possible to determine any sign of intelligence yet, it acts more as a reflex. One neuron and you’re alive, two neurons you’re moving. And with movement interesting things begin to happen.
Professor Norman: Animal life on earth goes back millions of years, yet most species only use three to five percent of its cerebral capacity. But it isn’t until we reached human beings at the top of the animal chain that we finally see a species use more of its cerebral capacity.
Professor Norman: Ten percent may not like seem much, but it’s a lot if you look at all we’ve done with it.
Professor Norman: Now let’s discuss a special case. The only living being that uses its brain better than us; the dolphin. It is estimated that this incredible animal uses up to twenty percent of its cerebral capacity. In particular, this allows it to have an echo location system that is more efficient than any Sonar invented by mankind. But the dolphin did not invent the Sonar, it developed it naturally. And this is the crucial part of our philosophical reflection we have today. Can we therefore conclude that humans are concerned more with having than being?
Lucy: What did you do to my stomach?
The Limey: Nothing. Just a little horizontal slit. It’s very well done. And, oh, you’ll find within a month, the scar is practically invisible too. You’ll be able to show your tummy off on the beach next summer.
Lucy: I don’t care about the scar.
The Limey: Is it why we opened you up, yep? Rest assured we didn’t harvest your organs, or anything. We merely slipped a little package into your lower tummy. It’s a new drug that kids in Europe are going to love, believe me.
Lucy: What is it?
The Limey: Well, the scientific term is CPH4, which is not very sexy from a sales point of view. So we’re still working on something with a bit more pop. Any suggestions?
The Limey: [to Lucy and the three men] Right. First of all, many thanks for taking part in this enterprise. Which I’m sure will go off flawlessly. These lovely passport and tickets will enable you to return home in the next twenty-four hours. Now upon arrival you will be taken in hand by our people so that we might recover our merchandise. And you might rediscover the freedom, which you so richly deserve. I’m sure there’s no need to remind you that for any of those who may be tempted to warn, or turn themselves in to the authorities, we have the names and addresses of the families of every one of you, down to the distant cousins.
Professor Norman: For primitive beings like us, life seems to have only one single purpose: gaining time. And it is going through time, seems to be also the only real purpose of each of the cell in our bodies. To achieve that end, the mass of the cells that make up earthworms and human beings, has only two solutions. Be immortal, or to reproduce. If its habitat is not sufficiently favorable, or nurturing, the cell will choose immortality. In other words, self-sufficiency and self-management. On the other hand, if the habitat is favorable, they will choose to reproduce.
Professor Norman: That way, when they die, they hand down essential information and knowledge to the next cell, which hands it down to the next cell and so on. Thus, knowledge and learning are handed down, through time.
Lucy: [to herself] Okay. Okay. Keep calm. You just have to wait, just pray for time. You have time to think it through on the plane. Just take the flight. Take the fight and get out of here. Okay, that’s the main thing right now. Just save time. Don’t try anything. Keep your cool. You’re alive. You’re alive. You’re alive. That’s all that matters. Just wait. Save time. Save time.
Professor Norman: Let’s imagine for a few moments what our life would be like if we could access like, let’s say, twenty percent of our brain’s capacity. This first stage would give us access to and control over our own body.
Male Student #1: Has it been proven scientifically?
Professor Norman: Well, for the moment, it’s just hypothesis, I confess. But if you think about it, it’s troubling to realize that the Greeks, Egyptians and the Indians had notion of cells centuries before the invention of the microscope. And what to say about Darwin, whom everybody took for a fool when he put forth his Theory of Evolution. It’s up to us to push the rules and laws, and go from evolution to revolution.
Professor Norman: One hundred billion neurons per human of which only fifteen percent are activated. There are more connections in the human body than there are stars in the galaxy. We possess a gigantic network of information to which we have almost no access.
Female Student: And what would be the next stage?
Professor Norman: Well, the next stage would probably be control of other people. But for that, we would need to access at least forty percent of our brain’s capacity. After control of ourselves and others, would come control of matter. But now we’re entering into the realm of science fiction and we don’t know any more than the dog who watches the moon.
Male Student #2: But, what would happen if for some reason we ignore, somebody unlocked one hundred percent of the cerebral capacity?
Professor Norman: One hundred percent?
Male Student #2: Yes.
Professor Norman: I have no idea.
Lucy: [after shooting the patient on the operating table] You wouldn’t have been able to save him anyway. The tumor had already invaded the cortex on the right side of his spine.
Lucy: [to the doctor] Somebody put a bag of drugs in me, I need you to remove it. It’s leaking. Do it now.
Doctor: Right. I’ll just administer a local anesthetic.
Lucy: Don’t bother.
Lucy’s Mother: Yes.
Lucy: I feel everything.
Lucy’s Mother: What do you mean, sweetie?
Lucy: Space. The air. The vibrations. The people. I can feel the gravity. I can feel the rotation of the earth. The heat leaving my body. The blood in my veins. I can feel my brain. The deepest parts of my memory.
Lucy’s Mother: Sweetie, we have a bad connection. I can’t hear you so well. What did you say about memory?
Lucy: The pain in my mouth when I had braces. I can remember the feeling of your hand on my forehead when I ran a fever. I remember stroking the cat, it was so soft.
Lucy’s Mother: The cat? What cat, honey?
Lucy: That Siamese with blue eyes and a broken tail.
Lucy’s Mother: Sweetie, you can’t possibly remember that. You were barely a year old.
Lucy: I remember the taste of your milk in my mouth. The room, the liquid.
Lucy’s Mother: Sweetie, what are you talking about?
Lucy: I just want to tell you that I love you, mom, and dad.
Lucy’s Mother: Sweetie.
Lucy: And I want to thank you for the thousand kisses that I can still feel on my face. I love you, mom.
Lucy’s Mother: I love you too, sweetie. More than anything in the world.
Lucy: [referring to the bag of drugs] How much is left?
Doctor: Five hundred grams.
Lucy: And how long will it take my body to eliminate the rest of it?
Doctor: To answer that, I need to know what it is.
Lucy: CPH4. Tell me about it.
Doctor: Pregnant women manufacture CPH4 in the sixth week of pregnancy, in tiny quantities. For a baby, it packs the power of an atomic bomb. It’s what gives the fetus the necessary energy to form all the bones in its body. I’d heard that they tried to make a synthetic version of it. Didn’t realize that they’d succeeded. If it really is CPH4, in this quantity, I’m amazed you’re still alive.
Lucy: Not for long.
Lucy: [a she sticks two knives in Jang’s hands] Learning is always a painful process. Like when you’re little, and your bones are growing and you ache all over. Do you believe I can remember the sound of my own bones growing? Like this grinding under the skin. Everything is different now, like sounds are music that I can understand. Like fluids.
Lucy: It’s funny, I used to be so concerned with who I was and what I wanted to be. And now that I have access to the furthest reaches of my brain, I see things clearly and realize that what makes us, it’s primitive. They’re all obstacles. Does that make any sense? Like this pain you’re experiencing, it’s blocking you from understanding. All you know now is pain. That’s all you know, pain.
Caroline: What’s up? How’s Richard?
Lucy: He’s dead.
Caroline: You guys are crazy. I’m going to take a shower.
Lucy: Professor Norman, my name is Lucy. I just read all your research on the human brain. We need to meet.
Professor Norman: [laughs] All of my research? Well, I’m very flattered, young lady, but I find that hard to believe. I must have written no less than…
Lucy: Six thousand seven hundred thirty four pages. I can recite them all to you by heart, if you wish.
Lucy: Professor, my cells are reproducing at a phenomenal speed. Several million per second. And I’m having trouble precisely evaluating the time of my death, but I doubt I’ll last more than twenty-four hours.
Professor Norman: What are you talking about?
Lucy: What I’m saying is that your theory is not a theory. I absorbed a large quantity of synthetic CPH4 that will allow me to use a hundred percent of my cerebral capacity. Right now, I’m at twenty-eight percent. And what you wrote is true, once the brain reaches twenty percent it opens up and expands the rest, there are no more obstacles. They fall away like dominoes. I’m colonizing my own brain.
Professor Norman: Well, I don’t know what to say. It’s true, I’ve been working on this theory for over twenty years. But it’s only ever been hypothesis and research ideas. I never thought anyone would…
Professor Norman: You can control your own metabolism?
Lucy: Yes, and I can start to control other peoples’ bodies. Also, I can control magnetic and electric waves. Not all of them, just the most basic.
Lucy: I don’t feel pain. Fear. Desire. It’s like all things that make us human are fading away. It’s like the less human I feel all this knowledge about everything; quantum physics, applied mathematics, the infinite capacity of a cell’s nucleus. They’re all exploding inside my brain, all these knowledge. I don’t know what to do with it.
Professor Norman: You know, if you think about the very nature of life. I mean, from the very beginning. The development of the first cell divided into two cells. The sole purpose of life has been to pass on what was learned. There is no higher purpose. So, if you’re asking me what to do with all this knowledge you’re accumulating, I’d say, pass it on. Just like any simple cell going through time.
Lucy: Time. Yes, of course. I’ll be at your door in twelve hours.
Caroline: Since when did you start writing in Chinese?
Lucy: Since an hour ago.
Caroline: Luce, I don’t understand any of this.
Lucy: Your kidneys aren’t functioning efficiently, your liver’s failing you. You need to make some lifestyle changes. Take this medication, work out, eat organic. You’ll be okay.
Lucy: Yes, I have important information about a group drug traffickers. I need to speak to someone in position of authority.
Pierre Del Rio: Aha. You’re very lucky there is no one with more authority in this office than me. But, let’s start at the beginning. What is your name?
Lucy: Listen up, Pierre Del Rio. Get off your desk, sit in your chair, pick up the red pen to the left of you and take down everything I say.
[Del Rio looks down and sees the red pen to his left on the desk]
Lucy: There are no cameras, hurry up. I have no time to waste.
Pierre Del Rio: Go ahead.
Lucy: I’m going to be sending you the details of three people about to arrive in Europe. Each one is carrying a kilo of drugs. I need you to arrest them and collect the substance, I’ll need it for later.
Pierre Del Rio: What form are these drugs in? Bars? Capsules?
Lucy: Powder, hidden in plastic pouches inside their intestines.
Pierre Del Rio: Excuse me?
Lucy: Be sure to be careful when you remove them. The product is very powerful.
Lucy: You should wipe your nose.
Flight Attendant #1: Excuse me?
Lucy: May I have a glass of champagne?
[suddenly the flight attendant’s nose starts to bleed]
Pierre Del Rio: [points his gun at her] Don’t move.
Lucy: I need to talk to you alone.
Pierre Del Rio: And I need you to put your hands up, please.
[with a wave of her fingers, Lucy makes everyone pass out, except for Del Rio]
Lucy: Did you get the packets?
Pierre Del Rio: Yes.
Lucy: Where are they?
Pierre Del Rio: They’re safe. Here, in Paris.
Lucy: They’ll be safer in my hands.
Pierre Del Rio: You know, as a cop, we see some pretty weird s**t. But I’ve to be honest with you, what you did back there, that freaked me out. To put everyone to sleep like that, do I need to be worried?
Pierre Del Rio: Good.
Pierre Del Rio: Do you always drive like that?
Lucy: I’ve never driven before.
Pierre Del Rio: Great.
Pierre Del Rio: Hey, that’s one way!
Lucy: We’re late.
Pierre Del Rio: Hey, I’d rather be late than dead.
Lucy: We never really die.
Pierre Del Rio: I’m going to tell them to stop following us.
Lucy: Don’t bother.
[Lucy uses her power to make the street bollards to go down allowing her to pass through]
Pierre Del Rio: I’m not sure I could be of any help for you.
Lucy: Yes, you are.
Pierre Del Rio: What for?
Lucy: [walks over to Del Rio and kisses him] A reminder. Shall we go?
Lucy: I know who everyone is.
Professor Norman: Ah, of course. Gentlemen, this is Lucy, the first woman to, I mean, as I mentioned earlier, Miss Lucy has for reasons that remain a mystery to me, unlocked certain portions of her brain that offer access to previously unexplored cerebral zones. She has abilities.
Professor: Can you give us an example?
Lucy: [using her power] Your daughter, Gabriel, aged six, died in a car accident. It was a blue car, leather seats, plastic bird hanging from the rear view mirror.
Jii: [subtitled] That damn girl, she doesn’t give in. She’s a witch.
Jang: [subtitled] I know that. I’ll kill her myself.
Professor: How did you manage to access all these information?
Lucy: Electrical impulses. Every cell knows and talks to every other cell. They exchange a thousand bits of information between them per second. Cells group together, forming a giant web of communication which in turn forms matter. Cells get together, take on one form. Deform. Reform. makes no difference, it’s all the same.
Lucy: Humans consider themselves unique, so they rooted their whole theory of existence on their uniqueness. “One” is their unit of measure, but it’s not. All social systems we put into place are a mere sketch. One plus one equals two, that’s all we’ve learned. But one plus one has never equaled two. They are in fact no numbers and no letters. We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale.
Professor Norman: But if humans are not the unit of measure, and the world isn’t governed by mathematical laws, what governs all that?
Lucy: Form a car speeding down the road. Speed up the image infinitely, then the car disappears. So what proof do we have of its existence? Time gives legitimacy to its existence. Time is the only true unit of measure. It gives proof to the existence of matter. Without time, we don’t exist.
Professor Norman: Time is unity.
Professor Norman: [refering to the CPH4] Are you sure you need such huge doses? I’m afraid you won’t survive.
Lucy: Some cells inside me will fight and defend their integrity to the very end. In order to attain the last few percent, I have to force it. To crack the cells open to their nucleus.
Professor Norman: All these knowledge, Lucy. I’m not even sure that mankind is ready for it. We’re so driven by power and profit. Given man’s nature, it might bring us only instability and chaos.
Lucy: Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge. I’ll build a computer and download all my knowledge in it. I’ll find a way for you to have access to it.
Professor Norman: Yeah. I just hope we will be worthy of your sacrifice.
Professor: [referring to Lucy] What is she doing?
Professor Norman: She’s looking for energy in matter. And she’s trying to connect with our computers.
[as Lucy starts creating a new age super computer before their eyes]
Professor #2: What is she making?
Professor Norman: New generation computer, I presume.
Professor: Look, the computer, it’s moving.
Pierre Del Rio: Hey. Where is she?
[Del Rio’s gets a text message “I AM EVERYWHERE”]
Lucy: [voice over] Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what to do with it.
Craig Singleton (Wigan, England) says
“Forgetful Lucy, she’s got a big Jacuzzi.” Wrong film and lyrics. Luc Besson is back! Not that anyone in America noticed. Luc is the main go-to guys for European action thrillers. He hasn’t been as active directing in recent years. He’s written more, lending scribes to not so well received films like Lookout, 3 Days to Kill and the sequel to Taken aptly named… Taken 2.
Luc is back in the chair for the story in which a normal woman finds herself in a terrible situation that has her life on line. An unknown synthetic drug named CPH4 is put into her system and it well takes effect. It allows her to access more of her brain, which makes her think quicker, react quicker and as the percentage rises, she’s gets super powers.
I thought the film was going to be like Limitless to 11, but Lucy is more like Limitless to 11,000,000. It goes so far beyond than what I thought it would. Scarlett Johansson has had a great year, but this could have so easily been the bump. She is very likeable and also believable in many ways in the film, most certainly in the action scenes. Her acting isn’t brilliant, however she does manage to restrain some emotions from her character.
Apart from Scarlett, Morgan Freeman is his usual delightful self in the film. He’s such a loveable actor. His character has done research into the capacity of the brain and how much access is available to use and Lucy asks for his help to understand what’s happening to her more.
The film is bright and colorful. Its visuals definitely aren’t groundbreaking, but for only a budget of $40 million, they don’t look bad. The set pieces throughout are well done from shootings and there’s one car sequence that was really well put together, the time was definitely taken to make it work.
At one point I thought that Lucy was getting so powerful and smarter than anyone could ever be that, I honestly didn’t know whether Luc could honestly wrap things up. The climax goes very crazy to the point where I thought it was stupid, but then creative, then stupid, then imaginative then my only reaction was just to laugh.
My score for the film is 74%. The plot is so very ambitious (understatement of the year!) but even though you might think it’s stupid, realise that it’s very entertaining. It’s very fast-paced and also quite funny. Good job from Besson from his retrospective shots to past times and creative imagery. Lucy is a true phenom even though she took drugs to become it.
Lisa H. (Los Angeles) says
A somewhat sci-fi thriller that depicts the origin of life.
You could say it starts off as a bit of a joke. Or just a really bad version of a 007 wanna-be-badass replica. Even Johansson’s acting starts off like a joke; literally, she seems to be laughing more than crying herself through the first ten minutes of the film.
However, Lucy transcends with every passing minute – as if the quality of the film and its acting were corresponding to the percentage of brain capacity that the protagonist female-gone-super-human android is using.
It is one of those films, whose idea clearly surpasses cinematographic capabilities – time, space, gravity, and the origin of cells that build life and our reality – it is one of those films that you watch skeptically, but are patient and open to giving it a chance. You watch, learn and enjoy, but after that start are all the while still deciding whether this is total guff, whether you have been ripped off at the theatre counter, and served quantum-physics starters-pack drivel with some Scarlett glitter on top to cover it up?
About midway through, I decided to give it a chance. A real chance. A chance at blowing me away and taking my mind to places unexplored, allowing my brain synapses to dance and go wild, tying together all my theories about life with what I was learning whilst fixing my eyes upon the screen. It worked.
The key is, to see film as art. To take what you can get from it. Not to criticize (and believe me there was a lot of moaning and dis-missing going on in the seats around me) but to make the most of it. Yes you CAN.
Once this happens (and there have been a lot of films where it just doesn’t happen, let me just say The Counsellor) you are free to go and experience that wonderful world of time, intelligence and purpose of life that is Lucy. Maybe I am an optimist who was fed cyborg-bullcrap and went off on it – maybe I fell in love with the idea of being – and playing Scarlett’s part, but in any case, I am glad to have seen this film, as it let me exit that cinema with sharpened senses and let me glide into the night feeling alive, thirsting for knowledge, finding life intelligent and beautiful. Each step was beautiful.