Humans use on average 10 per cent of their full brain function. This raises the question – what could we do with 100 per cent? Fly? Talk to animals? Director Luc Besson answers this question in his thriller Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.
The sci-fi film follows Lucy (Johansson), who is forced by her new boyfriend to deliver a mysterious suitcase to the dangerous businessman Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). She’s immediately kidnapped and is caught up in a dark deal when it turns out that four packages of a new extremely powerful drug are inside the suitcase. Mr. Jang forces Lucy to become one of his human vessels to carry the drugs overseas to his distributors. Lucy, along with three men who have been put in the same position, has a bag of drugs implanted in her abdomen. Jang threatens them that if they do not deliver the drugs, his gang will kill everyone they know, from close family members to the most distant cousin. The dangerous task takes a turn when the package bursts inside Lucy and the contents begin leaking into her bloodstream. Although she survives, such a high dosage of the drug has serious side effects.
As every second passes, Lucy can use more and more of her cerebral capacity and will eventually reach 100 per cent, an ability beyond human logic. With her brain function increasing she discovers she has newfound abilities, such as controlling other people and electricity, feeling everything she has ever experienced from birth up to the present, viewing other’s memories and even travelling through time. These newfound abilities come at a price. As her brain function increases, her lifespan shortens. The effects of the drug cause Lucy to realize she must stop the drug from harming any one else. In an attempt to do so she becomes a supernatural warrior, enacting revenge on her captors, all while trying to document her knowledge for scientific purposes with the help of Professor Norman (Freeman), who has dedicated his life to studying the brain and its potential.
The concept of the film is what propels the film forward, questioning everything society knows. However, the characters hold the film together and make this reality so believable and terrifying. Scarlett does an amazing job portraying Lucy at every stage of her increasing brain usage. She makes it incredibly believable and easy to determine how far Lucy has progressed as she loses more and more of her humanity. The robotic, detached girl we see at the end is almost completely unrecognizable from the highly emotional girl we witnessed at the beginning of the film. Opposite Scarlett is Min-sik Choi who plays the quintessential villain who will stop at nothing to complete his agenda. His fearlessness and cruelty is terrifying as we wonder what he could possibly do next – because nothing is out of the question. Providing the voice of reason and logic to the film is none other than Morgan Freeman, who displays both the fear and excitement of the unknown that Lucy presents to the world. The concept of Lucy, especially towards the end, seems a bit too fantastical. However, the sheer lack of knowledge about the possibility and grandness of the human brain makes the story that much more terrifying because it could be far more rooted in reality than we think.
The concept of Lucy is of course not scientifically proven and therefore may seem far-fetched. However, the DVD’s bonus features provide a look into the science behind the film in the featurette Cerebral Capacity: The True Science of Lucy. It shows how writer/director Luc Besson combined his imagination with scientific facts, as he discusses the concept and possibilities of utilizing the brain’s full capacity with specialists in the field. Also featured exclusively on the Blu-ray is The Evolution of Lucy, which features Scarlett, Morgan and Luc discussing the transformation of Lucy and the importance of accurately distinguishing her between the stages of her progression.