Lucy is the movie I almost missed.
After already being in the theaters for over a month, Lucy was fading quickly from the marquees. I had been excited to see the film since before I left for the City of Children mission trip (as I mentioned in FCC 14), and a friend even requested it back when it first came out. Unfortunately it never came to the theater where I live, and I had to miser down on some resources and keep the movie-ventures local for a little while. Luckily, however, this past Sunday, I made it to a town that had more screens than I could throw a large popcorn at, and I finally saw the movie.
I had heard the story was a little “out there” and that there would be things that I wouldn’t like – mainly all of the thread of Darwinian evolution. And while I was stirred by that presence in the film, this review is not for my personal views on anything regarding anything that happened “in the beginning;” instead, this review will host my impressions of the film and what can be drawn from it spiritually.
(Just a heads up: this film is rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality.)
Lucy is a thrill ride to 100%.
The world in Lucy is a world in which people only use 10-15% of their full brain capacity. Before we bipeds took control, the highest life-form was only using 5%. Then…something happened…those neanderthals learned a thing or two, and here we are. It’s also a world of hugely expansive drug rings that don’t just stop at the “high,” but even go as far as developing a drug that boosts the brain capacity.
Lucy, our heroine protagonista, gets caught up in this travesty when she is tricked into delivering some of those brain-enhancing drugs to a certain kingpin. Unfortunately, this kingpin has bigger and more territorially expanding plans that requires Lucy to unwillingly smuggle the drugs in her body across country borders. But when a guard in a holding cell kicks Lucy for refusing him certain services of ill-repute, the bag inside her breaks open, and Lucy gets a super-dose of the synthetic drugs. From that point on, it is a thrill ride to see her reach 100% (not really a spoiler because it’s revealed in the trailers).
With that out of the way, I’d have to say that I enjoyed the way the story was told more than the story itself. The storytelling is crisp, edgy, avant-garde, and even artistic in some moments. For example, in the scene in which Lucy is about to be abducted, the screen flashes to a gazelle in the wild plains and then shows a cheetah lurking in the tall grass, giving the metaphor a visual boost. The story also uses some great CGI, like showing the drug bag bursting within Lucy and the drugs subsequently – and beautifully – entering her system.
Just a note on the acting: Scarlett Johansson starts off well in the film, but as her character is changed by the drugs, her brilliance dims into a monotonous recitation – dare I say preaching – of philosophy from which the actions sequences and over sexualization barely save her. Then again, that could’ve been her direction, but whatevs.
The other star in this film is Morgan Freeman whose Professor Norman serves as Lucy confidante. He has been studying the evolution of the human brain and is anxious to witness Lucy’s progress. Morgan, as always, brings the amiable warmth to this cold, scientific world, and it’s actually through his character that I believe we can grow.
Man Cannot Know God’s Way
As Lucy is gaining momentum, Professor Norman states something to the effect of “some things, we just aren’t meant to know.” This notion is so poignant to the film and to life on the whole, I wish I could’ve rewound the film from where I sat just so I could soak it in a few more times.
The context Professor Norman says it in is where Lucy is increasing in power and then turns to him for advice. And Norman the Wise (or Morgan the Wise, whichever you prefer) proffers that advice to Lucy so as to get her to not be so haughty with her new abilities.
However, I think it also applies to anyone in the audience who thinks they know anything about our human past, including the beginning. Some think we evolved from more primitive beings, some believe that we were “created on the sixth day,” some believe both, and others believe neither. The point is that nobody knows for sure because nobody was there to witness it. Anything we believe or think we know about our surprising origins has to be taken on faith.
Consider these words from Solomon:
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out. (Ecclesiastes 8:16-17.)
If his wisdom is from God himself, are we not to understand these words as God himself telling us that it is meaningless to argue over the particulars of our formation? We can never really “find it out,” so why waste the time hating each other for it? Aren’t we called to be better than that?
I’m going to let Lucy have the last word because she actually says it best in the last line of the film:
Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what you can do with it.