Friday, July 25, 2014

'Lucy' review: Mind Over Matter

Careful - Lucy knows something you don't know. In fact, she knows everything you don't know.
Leaving the theater after seeing "Lucy," I was in a quandary. How would I describe the movie? Maybe I could reference the computer-generated world of "The Matrix." Maybe I could make some parallels with the hyper senses that fueled "Inception."

Or maybe I could just get right to the point and say it's an outstanding sci fi flick. Yeah, that works.

Director Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element") and actress Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow from "Iron Man," "Captain America" and "The Avengers") team up for the wildest ride of the summer movie season. Morgan Freeman is along, too, serving as a narrator of sorts as his character, Professor Samuel Norman, assists in explaining the plot.

As Norman expounds to students on his theories about the capacities of the human mind - what would happen if we began using more than the usual 10 percent of our brains? - we see Lucy living through the stages of conscious expansion. She gains uncanny control over her own body, then the bodies of others and then ... well, you get the idea. Or at least I don't want to spoil it for you if you don't.

At the beginning of the film, we get the distinct impression that Lucy may be using even less than 10 percent of her brain. The character is somewhat vague, yet unmistakably vulnerable. Let's just say that she's not the type who makes the best life choices.

Once she gains her abilities, thanks to ruthless Korean gangsters, Lucy begins the see the world the way it really is. Not the way I see it. Not the way you see it. But the way only she can see it. Her new abilities also tell her something very important about the future -
she is running out of time.

So she employs the use of Freeman, the kindly professor who wants to help a damsel in distress (who actually is a damsel in charge), and a French policeman (Amr Waked) trying to figure out what is going on. It all comes together in the end - Lucy, the scientists, the police and the chief bad guy (Choi Min-sik in a role that could have gone to a younger Jack Nicholson).

Mixed amid the action are some hunter-prey wildlife clips effectively used by Besson. As the screenwriter, he also gives the film a lively sense of humor that helps to make the story even more human. The end is coming, so why not have some fun along the way?

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