Movie Review: Lucy – Transcendence is the New Black


Genre: Sci-Fi/Action

Director: Luc Besson

Running Time: 89 Minutes

“You put too much stock in human intelligence, it doesn’t annihilate human nature.”

― Philip Roth, American Pastoral

The Plot

A 20-something woman (Scarlett Johansson) unwittingly becomes a drug mule for a Korean drug boss. The drugs are surgically inserted into her abdomen. While in holding, awaiting transfer, Lucy is attacked and beaten by her jailers. After several punishing blows to her stomach, her sutures tear and the drug’s packaging ruptures, leaking straight into her blood stream. The CPH4 is supposedly a naturally occurring compound, produced by pregnant women, in much smaller doses, during gestation. Lucy makes her way to a hospital and forces a surgeon and his team to remove the remaining drugs from her abdomen.

The leaked quantity has remarkable effects on Lucy. She is able to analyse the human body through touch, she can see the intricate cellular systems of living things (in one scene this was a tree and its root system), she exhibits abilities like telekinesis and telepathy, she can see and manipulate radio and cellular waves, all while using 20-25% of her brain’s capacity.

Lucy makes it her business to find the 3 other drug mules, and enlists the help of a french police officer. By joining forces, the authorities are able to apprehend all three drug mules but the Koreans find them. It fast becomes apparent that Lucy is on a fast track to death, if she doesn’t get her hands on more of the CPH4. Or is she…?

Lucy Streams.jpg

Performances & Special Effects

I’ve never been a huge Scarlett Johansson fan but I do enjoy her has the Black Widow in the Avengers films and I loved her performances in He’s Just Not That Into You and Girl with the Pearl Earring. This performance was missing something. She was particularly twitchy and doe-eyed in the beginning, presumably to illustrate the marked change that the drug makes. She is meant to become a being entirely devoid of fear and emotion, unfeeling even, and blatantly disregarding the sanctity if human life by shooting anyone who cannot or refuses to assist her while remaining thoroughly calm. That’s what they were going for but it felt forced and acted.

Her police side-kick is entirely unnecessary and, again, their connection is artificial. At one point he asks her why she needs him as she is clearly capable of defending herself. Her response is that she needs him “as a reminder”, presumably of what it means to be human. This is then punctuated with the saddest excuse of a kiss I have even witnessed.

It’s glaringly apparent that the money went into the special effects. They are pretty cool but too textbook. If you have a being capable of literally anything she can think of, I don’t want to watch her sitting in a chair looking at a green screen of scenes fast forward and rewind in front of her. The CGI for the dinosaurs and the early humanoid was pretty wicked but that can been seen in any decent Discovery documentary these days.

Lucy Hands.jpg

The Review

In all honesty, this is truly one of the most disappointing films I have ever watched. The more I thought about it after the movie ended, the more irate I became. I had a very similar reaction to Elysium as both films were ultimately based on and developed around a flawed premise. Unlike Elysium, I could roll with the flawed premise and look at it as a hypothetical situation. Even so, Lucy had an interesting hypothesis but ultimately failed to deliver.

I have to mention that one of the biggest draw backs, for me, was the perpetuation of the 10% myth. Most of modern society knows that this is a lie, it was even busted by Myth Busters. That aside, the movie was boring. The music didn’t enhance the action scenes but rather felt really out of place. The acting was stilted and the Black Widow demeanour old hat. I kept thinking about Lucy long after it finished, not because I was wanting to figure it out, like with Transcendence or Ex Machina, but because I kept thinking that it could have been such an amazing and fun movie but they royally fucked it up.

Creation of Lucy.jpg

Much like its ’90s and early 2000s predecessors were, this movie could have been a fantastic vehicle for exploring the complexities of the mind-body problem, and bringing this philosophical argument from the musty bookshelves of university libraries to the masses. Except, it didn’t. The imagery was forced, especially Lucy reaching a finger towards a humanoid figure (presumably meant to be the other Lucy), in a very Creation of Adam kinda way.

I guess the other way of looking at it is that this woman was so high that she could literally taste colours and hear smells while believing she was god and that she was seated on a shitty office chair, in a holding cell the entire time. Who knows…?

My Rating: 2.5/5

Buy or rent Lucy on

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