A still from Lucy
Luc Besson’s Lucy has Scarlett Johansson playing the title role of Lucy, a young woman who unwittingly gets involved in a drug deal gone wrong and its consequences thereafter. Besson is known for creating some strong female action heroes from La Femme Nikita to The Fifth Element and Lucy follows along the same line. The movie develops its narrative from the fascinating premise that human beings use only 10% of their brain’s capacity and through an accident Johansson finds herself on the path to using a 100% percent but with only twenty hours hours to live. In fact, as she gains more knowledge about humanity she finds herself becoming increasingly less ‘human’ and views human beings as cogs in a vast machine, denuding them of any individuality in the process. Icarian in how the quest for knowledge brings with it annihilation of the self. As she raises a toast to herself, she says, “to knowledge!” Morgan Freeman as the Professor and Neuroscientist whom Lucy seeks out in order to utilize her superhuman potential has little to do apart from exposition of the scientific theories which Lucy experiences in person. Of course, one would have preferred if Besson followed the policy of show rather than tell in these sections. Johansson’s transition from a rebellious, confused college goer in search of her identity to someone who is in possession of knowledge in every form possible is intriguing if a little flat.
Lucy is visually stunning if a little unsubtle, it creates a jarring effect which often leaves the audience disconcerted. Scientifically, it has been accused of misinterpreting facts and preexisting knowledge to serve its purpose. Yet, for Hollywood to build a story on a scientific premise (even if faulty) and with only a female hero to carry it ahead is no mean feat. If the title seems like there was no thought put into it that’s not true either. Besson draws the trajectory of woman’s history from the first woman or rather a fossilized skeleton of a woman found over three million years ago who was named Lucy (or even Lucy Stone for that matter) to his superhuman Lucy. For Besson, Lucy’s story is a microcosmic version of what has been happening in evolutionary biology over centuries and how philosophy and science deal with it (in fast forward motion). As a story that mixes philosophy with science it will interest a certain section of the audience and the action part will entice the others.