The trailer for Lucy contains all of its worthwhile moments. The trailer also bears little resemblance to the film. The title refers to the main character, played by Scarlett Johansson, and also to the name given to the remains of the ancient australopithecine ancestor of humankind uncovered in Ethiopia in 1973. Evolutionary leaps, with nods to Michelangelo, 2001, and E.T., are what this film would like to be about.
Premise: Asian drug lords force a young woman to be an unwilling mule for a drug they want to smuggle internationally. When she is kicked in the stomach, the drug, a powerful artificial growth hormone, leaks into her body. As a result, she develops unusual abilities, and her body begins using previously unutilized portions of her brain, so that she becomes physically powerful, hyper-intelligent, can manipulate matter, and travel through time.
Here is what Lucy (2014; dir. Luc Besson) has going for it: Morgan Freeman, mainly his voice; Johansson herself, passive and beautiful; special effects—they’re actually good, although there are few opportunities to put them on display; the director, who in The Fifth Element (1996) showed a few skills.
There are neutral elements: Asian drug peddlers, many of them, in great abundance. Why Asians? What statement is made here, intentionally or not? Also, Paris. It has little bearing on the central plot, but it is picturesque, especially the Eiffel Tower. We can’t have Paris without the Eiffel Tower. And it diverts our attention from other elements, such as black goo merging with computers.
What pulls this movie down to abject and craven failure? The screenplay, which is preposterous, illogical, superficial, incoherent, and silly.
Whom do we fault?: the screenwriter, the producers, the director (who should have rejected the screenplay), the actors (ditto), and anyone else who had anything to do with the film.
Let us give due credit to the makers of the trailer.