Movie Review: “Lucy” – Thought-provoking

Written by Caitlin Cooper July 29, 2014


Films which question and push the definition of what it is to be human are not new; however, this summer the box office has had two such films: “Transcendence” and “Lucy”. These two movies both explore how minds can expand. In the former, it’s by uploading our consciousness to a computer. In the latter, it’s by the (unintentional) consumption of a drug that unlocks our brain’s full capabilities. While both have an interesting premise and a strong cast, it’s “Lucy” that stands out as a truly interesting philosophical film.

“Lucy”, written and directed by Luc Besson, tells the tale of a young woman who becomes a drug mule against her will. When one of the men holding her captive beats her, he unknowingly punctures one of the drug bags inside her abdomen. What results is a change at the level of Lucy’s (Scarlett Johansson) cells; the drug, known as CPH-4, is the key to unlocking her brain’s capabilities. But Lucy is determined that her circumstances somehow be worthwhile to the world.

“Life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it?”

What does it mean to be human? If we become more, do we lose our humanity? What would it mean for the world if we were able to operate on an advanced cerebral level? “Lucy” succeeds where “Transcendence” fails. It has a truly interesting script (with minimal plot holes), and the film is pretty fast-paced which means there’s never a dull moment. Interspersed around Lucy’s journey is a lecture delivered by Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman). This lecture provides the scientific theories behind a human’s cerebral capacity, and each point further highlights the changes Lucy undergoes.


What Lucy can do after CPH-4 enters her system is truly astounding. She can access a person’s memories, she can control her body, and more. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Lucy’s journey, however, is not just in her abilities. As the drug continues to change her, her very personality is altered. She cannot feel pain and many other emotional and physical responses that humans do. She begins to feel out of touch with other humans, mostly because she’s become an advanced human. Another change is that she has a vast amount of knowledge that she wants to share with the world.

“Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge.”

Another strong aspect of “Lucy” is the cast. Scarlett Johansson brings Lucy from a kind, rather quiet but feisty student dealing with exams to someone who’s completely altered. Lucy II doesn’t feel many of the weights that she did previously, so even during an emotional phone call with her mom, she sounds drastically different. This is partly due to the way Johansson delivers lines, with a rather monotone, quick speech; however, she still manages to convey a complex range of emotions. Morgan Freeman and Amr Waked play characters who are contacted by Lucy and are thus thrown into the staggering world of this posthuman. Freeman and Waked both play their parts well: They are equally awed and afraid of what Lucy can do, and it’s believable.


What really tops off the list of things that “Lucy” achieves is the CGI. The things Lucy can do are depicted in truly stunning ways. When she changes her body, when she uses her brain power to control other people and objects, the CGI is seamless and fascinating. She creates something towards the end of the film that is odd-looking, but cool. When we’re shown all that she has learned about our world, galaxy, and beyond, everything looks as though it’s incredibly real. The special effects are also vital in the action scenes that are awesome and mind-boggling at the same time. The CGI isn’t overdone like it can be in some films; it’s subtle, but extremely important to what “Lucy” explores during its run time.

“Without time we don’t exist.”

Overall, “Lucy” is a very thought-provoking film which brings into question what makes us human, and what we’d be like if we had access to all of our brain’s capabilities at once. It has a similar concept to “Transcendence”, but is executed much better. The strong cast of Johansson, Freeman, and Waked portray characters thrown into an odd situation very well. It’s no surprise this film did well at the box office this past weekend.

My Rating: 7/10


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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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