Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a student in Taiwan who gets mixed up in a drug deal. Suddenly she finds herself with a plastic bag full of a new drug stitched into her stomach and supposed to deliver it to Europe. But she never arrives there. Instead the bag ruptures and Lucy absorbs the drug which activates untold capacities in her brain. When Lucy has control of herself again, she needs to figure out what to do with her newfound powers.
This film is an absolute mess. Even if you don’t take into account that it’s basic premise is already wrong, it doesn’t make sense at all, there’s some amazingly casual racism, and above all it is so stupid that it probably diminishes your brain function considerably as you watch it.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the premise that we don’t use all of our brain is utter bullshit. The premise that all of our memories are recorded somewhere inside out brain and we just need a way to access them to retrieve them undistorted is utter bullshit. That more intelligence means less emotions is utter bullshit. This movie, of course, buys into all of these premises – but at least the first one is kind of its starting point, so – even if it is a trope that I believe should die a very quick death – I can’t really fault it for that.
What I can fault it for, though, is the amount of stupidity that follows this basic assumption. It starts with Morgan Freeman’s speeches throughout this film and his batshit hypotheses about what happens as the brain’s capacity is unlocked (“It’s a theory at this point, but so was Darwin’s evolution.” YOU DO UNDERSTAND WHAT A SCIENTIFIC THEORY IS, Mr. Science Man? And that Darwin had a lot of basis for his theory, plus actual proof? Whereas you have the ramblings of a madman) and ends with a lot of statements that perfectly illustrate that you don’t only need grammar to speak correctly, but also semantics (“The dolphin developed its echolocution device naturally, of course. It’s evolution, not invention. Does that mean that humans will forever be stuck with Having instead of Being?” I MEAN, WHAT???). And it goes on with Lucy suddenly knowing everything because she is smart now (fucking intelligence is not the same as fucking knowledge, ‘kay?!). And Amr Waked’s character who is just completely pointless. And the list just doesn’t end.
Then there’s also the fact that the movie is pretty racist. Is Jang Chinese or Korean? Who cares, it’s all the same anyway, isn’t it? There’s one scene where Lucy actually shoots a (Taiwanese) man for not speaking English in fucking TAIWAN (where she has been living/studying a while, obviously without learning a single word of Chinese). There’s the general fact that a white person going around shooting Asian people/POC in general willy-nilly since she became smart (while the white drug dealer involved is not target of her revenge and neither are any of the other white people she encounters).
I do appreciate Scarlett Johansson and I really love Scarlett Johansson in kick-ass action roles (of which there are way too few). But even she can’t make up for the stupidity of the film, its confused plot or the boredom that would creep in as soon as my anger at all that bullshit cooled down even for a second.