Lucy (2014)
July 25, 2014 9:28 PM - Subscribe

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
posted by mathowie (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just got back from it. It's frequently preposterous, but sort of endearingly batshit. There was a moment when Lucy rolls back time in Times Square that made me legitimately gasp.
posted by maxsparber at 10:26 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

After watching Under the Skin and reading the FanFare thread on that, I've been thinking about how interesting Scarlett Johansson's career choices have been. Then I saw the trailer for Lucy, and I approached it from that perspective.

I just got home from the theater and I really enjoyed it. It's a great 'benevolent singularity' story. After this movie and Her I'm starting to think Scarlett Johansson has a thing for singularity narratives.

I think some of the people in the audience were expecting this to be like The Bourne Identity and were thrown for a loop when she started doing really far-out science fiction things like transcending space & time. I heard some confused/negative reactions in the lobby afterward. So I think one's reaction to this film has a lot to do with expectations. I was hoping for some interesting and daring science fiction with a non-boring story and performances, and I was well pleased.
posted by isthmus at 10:46 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Flowers for Algernon remade as a loopy action thriller with bits of Tree of Life and 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown into the mix.

I enjoyed it but I can't claim that it was a great movie. Not much of it made much sense and the blather that Freeman was forced proclaim with a straight face was much worse than I'd feared after seeing the trailer. On the other hand, Johansson is very good and the action sequences are well staged.

Since I usually complain that films are too long, now I'm going to complain that this was too short. At about 90 minutes, it seemed like there could have been a slightly longer cut that might have stopped to catch its breath for a few minutes. On the other hand, then we might have had longer to think about the stoner biology nonsense which wouldn't have been a good thing.
posted by octothorpe at 5:26 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, the whole "10% of the brain's capacity" thing was really dumb, and I had decided to ignore it as much as possible.
posted by isthmus at 8:57 AM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

I really liked it. Transhumanist sci-fi is amazing and the action felt awesome but not overly machismo.
posted by Strass at 11:44 AM on July 26, 2014

Yeah, Her was a huge hit among my friends and I, along with Under the Skin, which made it so funny when we went to a movie and saw the trailer for Lucy. I leaned over to my friend in the theater and said, "Dangit Scarlett, stop transcending all time and space!"
posted by malapropist at 1:24 PM on July 26, 2014

Johansson was a last minute replacement for Samantha Morton in Her so I assume that she'd signed up for Lucy long before her work on Jonze's movie.
posted by octothorpe at 2:34 PM on July 26, 2014

I just got back from Lucy. I enjoyed that quite a bit more than I expected to, as I hate both the "you only use 10% of your brain" and "the unfettered mind can control time and space" tropes. In some ways, it felt like an action-packed Altered States.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:04 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Johansson was a last minute replacement for Samantha Morton in Her so I assume that she'd signed up for Lucy long before her work on Jonze's movie.

Well, Her was at the New York Film Festival last October, so she must have finished it before heading off to France in September to start shooting Lucy. News broke that she was going to be in Her in May of the same year.

Well, it all happened pretty quickly.
  • April 2013: News breaks that SJ is "in final negotiations" to star in Lucy.
  • May 2013: WB announces that Scarlett Johansson is in Her, to everyone's surprise.
  • September 2013: Lucy starts shooting in France, per Wikipedia, although it's not clear SJ was there from the very beginning.
  • October 2013: Her debuts at the New York Film Festival.
Based on that timeline, it looks to me like SJ was probably working on Her before she signed on the dotted line to star in Lucy, although who knows how long those negotiations took. She's had a great year for sure (I thought Her was pablum, but that's not her fault and it's at least a very ambitious film) no matter how it all came together.
posted by Mothlight at 5:32 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

By the way, I love this thread's summary of the movie. It conveys the character of the movie and remains almost totally spoiler-free. I wish they could all be like that.
posted by isthmus at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just want one thing answered... is there any additional context to justify Lucy just gunning down a random taxi driver for not speaking English?
posted by kmz at 7:47 PM on July 26, 2014

Well she only shot him in the leg. You hear him in the background yelling something like "oww my leg".
posted by octothorpe at 8:27 PM on July 26, 2014

It did bother me that the kingpin would have Lucy held captive by people that would do physical harm to her and thus risk losing the drug. Given the extent of his delivery network, I would think he would put more effort into ensuring the safety of the product itself.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:13 AM on July 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

Luc Besson on how the "we only use 10% of our brains thing" is bullshit:

"It’s totally not true. Do they think that I don’t know this? I work on this thing for nine years and they think that I don’t know it’s not true? Of course I know it’s not true!....The 10 percent is a metaphor in a way. So that’s why I was not bothered by that. I’m always amazed by these people who become scientists at the last minute and go, “This is wrong!” Of course; it’s a film. [Laughs.]"

I really enjoyed the movie, and loved that Luc Besson is totally aware of how ridiculous the premise is and just doesn't care. His commitment to entertainingly batshit premises is my favorite thing about his films. They're always infused with a certain sense of fun and glee, and they generally have some cool stylistic touches that distinguish them from other more generic action movies. In Lucy, I especially liked the cutaways to the mouse approaching a trap and the gazelle being hunted by the cheetah in the beginning.
posted by yasaman at 10:27 AM on July 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

Just back from the show; looked to me like Altered States put in a blender with The Matrix. It was fun but did require deliberately deciding to give the crazy a pass and roll with it. Lucy science must come from the same school as Sleepy Hollow American history.
posted by localroger at 11:32 AM on July 27, 2014

What a glorious mixed up mishmash of science fiction metaphors and ideas all blended together in a glob of "lets make a movie" that pushes the green light execs buttons and lets us film all over the world. If Orson Wells said "a film studio is the best toy ever" then Besson is living it.
posted by sammyo at 3:33 PM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I only heard about this today, but am definitely looking forward to it - I do love Besson's superhero women, from Leeloo to Adele Blanc Sec. I'm surprised that people have taken it to task for not being scientifically accurate, unlike the film where a boy is bitten by a spider, which means he can climb walls, or the one where a skinny kid with polio gets an injection and climbs into a magic box, thereby turning into a muscle-bound hunk. Proper science like that.
posted by Grangousier at 3:35 PM on July 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Well Grangousier when we go to see a Marvel movie we kind of know (and the scriptwriters kind of know) that any "science" is going to be of the pre-adolescent child fantasy variety and we give it a pass and the scriptwriters generally soft-pedal the details.

It's just a teensy bit different when the movie has barely opened and we are seeing cutaways to nature documentaries and Morgan Freeman lecturing a college class, complete with serious Q&A, on How This Important Stuff Works.

I found Lucy a lot of fun, but you cannot just suspend disbelief. You have to consciously take your disbelief and run it through a wood chipper, then burn the chips and fire the ashes off into outer space. Then you have to realize that late in the movie Lucy is going to run across the ashes of your disbelief and she will instantly know exactly how many times you have ever masturbated. And how many times you will in the future.
posted by localroger at 4:15 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just got back from it and it was a lot of dumb fun. The end was kind of dumb (all of human knowledge fits on a USB key?!). Personally, I hate when futuristic scifi is reduced to just a bunch of gunplay (like The Matrix). If Johansen could control space/time/objects, why wouldn't she just eradicate all the guns in the final scenes so none of the Paris police had to die?

Also, that black dress with the subtle stitching she wears through most of the movie was amazing looking and would probably look good on lots of people. I assume it was custom but seemed like something that could be off the rack.
posted by mathowie at 5:32 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm going to see it in a few days. Ambivalent that Taiwan is going to be in the movie, because it's always cool to see the old country in a major film, but leery that the trailer seems to show a lot of Asian male gangsters chasing a Western woman.
posted by FJT at 6:53 PM on July 27, 2014

It did bother me that the kingpin would have Lucy held captive by people that would do physical harm to her and thus risk losing the drug.

That bothered me too, so I mentally inserted a scene where she and her escorts were ambushed by a rival gang. Then I realized if that point was going to bother me, I was going to be having a very hard time with the rest of the movie.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:16 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

All of human knowledge fits on a USB key?
Perhaps it's a movie version of the Amazing code illustrated by Martin Gardner.
posted by elgilito at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Somebody in a meeting yesterday said "We're only using 25% of Cognos" and I immediately thought of this film.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:44 PM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Were we ever told it was Taiwan? I missed it, if it was mentioned/shown... I assumed it was China because to the Western mind, all sketchy medicine and drug dealing happens in China
posted by Strass at 6:02 PM on July 28, 2014

Yes, it was definitely in Taipei. They had signs that said Taipei, and the mules had airline tickets that showed Taipei was their departing city.
posted by isthmus at 8:05 AM on July 29, 2014

I just would be happier if they had chosen a different organ. "I was just like you until I learned to use 100% of my liver."
posted by happyroach at 1:06 PM on July 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

FJT- the film begins in Taipei, but the drug kingpin speaks Korean, and Lucy clearly said she was tipped off to his presence by "hearing" the Korean language in a later scene. (I'm not at all sure that was the right verb for that scene)

I'm still processing my thoughts on the film, but I was struck by the diversity of the cast. Most of the mules were white guys, but none of the major characters were, and yet, it's still a hit!
posted by peppermind at 5:58 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lucy beats Hercules!
posted by octothorpe at 7:09 PM on July 29, 2014

This reminded me of Run Lola Run (re-watch!).

It was mostly fun and entertaining and it helped that Besson knew going in the 10% premise was BS.

Questions that I probably shouldn't ask:
Why she was in some sort of random ship's (?) hold or storeroom while everyone else was on a jet? That was an WTF moment.
Can anyone explain what happened between her collapsing in the airline's bathroom and her waking up in the hospital? It felt like there a pretty necessary scene missing.

I'm pretty sure they tried to signify that wasn't an ordinary jumpdrive by having it covered in stars for a minute. I assumed it was referencing quantum mechanics or something like.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 3:55 PM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I disliked this movie with 80% of my brain. The plot doesn't hang together (being kidnapped by the same gangsters who have forced her to be a drug mule, munching the blue stuff on the airplane, as if she couldn't have foreseen the need for it with her 40%+ of brain-capacity-utilization and been more moderate, and so on). Using science-y sounding lingo that people actually do believe as a pretext for some kind of cosmic head-trip. That really took me out of my suspension of disbelief.

Strass: "Were we ever told it was Taiwan? "

Yeah. In the opening shots, you see the Taiwanese flag motif here and there. Also the Taipei 101 tower shows up a lot—it's an iconic piece of architecture.
posted by adamrice at 2:58 PM on August 5, 2014

I liked it because Lucy decided to be selfless with her expanding knowledge. There were various odd tonal shifts in the movie, but overall it was good fun. Loved the images interspersed in the beginning, nice touch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just went to see this at the weekend. It was utterly nonsensical, but I really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I was going to.
posted by Fence at 5:09 AM on August 24, 2014

I was disappointed Morgan Freeman didn't just start yelling, PULL THE STRING!

My problem was not the stupid pseudoscience so much as the fact that the movie kept hitting me over the head with it.
posted by ckape at 12:18 AM on January 19, 2017

My SO and I have been trying to figure out the airplane scene for hours. Most parts of the action are clearly played straight, showing other characters reacting appropriately to what is really happening, but the airplane bit could have been a hallucination.

Re-watched this tonight, and it occurred to me that Lucy began to fizz on the plane because of the champagne she drank. When only your will is in control of your body/cells/etc. and you ingest a chemical known to lower your inhibitions I guess you begin to physically disassociate.
posted by carsonb at 8:03 PM on December 7, 2017

Hello I'm the last person on Earth to see this movie.

Is this what it's like to be really high and tripping balls? Lucy was redonk to the max.
posted by GuyZero at 9:48 PM on March 15, 2018

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