2014-07-25

Lucy – Be All You Can Be

by Yo Snyder

Be all you can be. That’s what the Army recruitment
commercials used to tell us. It’s an appealing idea; finding some way to unlock
our full potential. In Lucy, although
Scarlett Johansen’s character, Lucy, doesn’t actively seek out a way to unlock
her full potential, she eventually does thanks to some brutal circumstances and
a crazy new drug. Granted, it has the side effect of being potentially lethal,
but other side effects include gaining access to amazing Matrix/mutant like
powers, instant access to an almost unlimited store of knowledge, the ability
to travel through time, and ultimately an ascension into godhood. Yeah, pretty
sure that’s not quite what the Army recruitment slogan “Be all you can be” had
in mind, but it makes for a fun, if trippy, ride in this film.

First, let me warn you that this isn’t some “Black Widow
gains mutant powers and kicks butt” movie like the trailers make it out to be. Lucy is much more existential,
philosophical and just straight up weirder than that. I like sci-fi that’s willing
to ask some biggest questions, and this one tackles some of the true biggies;
like “Why Are We Here” and “What is the Meaning of Existence”. The film puts
forth two intriguing possibilities; where are here to be immortal or we are
here to reproduce. If we are here to reproduce, that means the passing along of
knowledge and information. As Lucy’s awakened brain capacity slowly ticks
towards 100%, she does indeed gain access to a vast quantity of knowledge (and
some nifty super powers as well), and she does find a way to pass that along,
but the question lingers as to whether that’s really what life is all about.
The movies seems to think that it’s rather obvious that humanity isn’t
immortal, and therefore the accumulation of knowledge and the passing along of
that information is one of the most important things we can do with our
existence. Interestingly enough, the Bible suggests something altogether
different.

C.S. Lewis once suggested that every person we encounter is,
in fact, already an eternal being. Every person on this planet will live for
eternity; the only thing in question is where that eternity will be spent.
There are two clear choices for that; one can either spend eternity in heaven
or eternity in hell. This is not something we can “opt-out on”, and a
non-choice results in the default of choice of eternity in hell. God, however,
in his great love for us, provided another choice for us through the death and
resurrection of his son Jesus. If we actively choose to believe Jesus and all
he said, we are then given the option of heaven as our destination for
eternity. Now I know some that find that to be a bit narrow, proselytizing,
limiting and so on and so forth; but consider the alternatives. We can convince
ourselves that life amounts to nothing more than the passing of knowledge and
information; bleak. We can decide not to make any choice about our eternity and
find ourselves spending someplace none of us would want to be in; scary. Or we
can accept the gift God has given us through Jesus and make the choice to spend
our eternity in heaven with the Creator who made us with purpose and who loves
us dearly; sounds pretty good. Quite frankly, I don’t see what’s so bad about
that given the first two options.

It’s certainly better than the bleak and pointless outlook
put forth by the existential ponderings of Lucy.
Fortunately, if that kind of philosophical pondering really isn’t your thing,
there’s some pretty fun action to enjoy in Lucy as well. To a certain extent,
it almost feels like Luc Besson knew that people wouldn’t want to see this film
unless it has some sort of gunplay in it, so much of the action-centric plot
seems tacked simply to give the movie some action. Lucy quickly reaches a plane
of existence where thugs with guns pose absolutely no threat to hear, and so a
cop is brought along in the later half of the film to provide someone to exchange bullets with the bad
guys. Plus there’s a fun car chase tossed into the works as well because, you
know, action.

Make no mistake, though, Lucy
is not an action film. If anything, it’s even more philosophical and existential
than the Matrix, but with action scenes that are a bit more standard and less
inventive. The cost give solid enough performances, although it seems a waste
to have Morgan Freeman play the role of Mr. Exposition and basically tell us
the reason for all the stuff happening to Lucy is, you know, science. Of
course, the proposition of the film that humans only use 10% of their brain isn’t
exactly solid fact (but then, neither is the film’s idea when it comes to
origins of life), so it’s not like it’s on solidly believable ground to begin
with, so I guess they needed some to explain things were happening because,
science. Still, big questions, some really existential ponderings, some
intriguing if quirky editing choices, and some decent action all mixes together
to make for a passably entertaining film that will get you thinking. Too bad much
of it’s spoiled by a realer downer of a final line.

Score: 4 of 7 – Lucy
is rated R, and it has some pretty dark, gritty moments in it. However, it’s
the extremely bleak and pointless worldview that I find more disturbing. Good
dollar movie, maybe even worth a matinee on a really hot day and you feel like
pondering the meaning of life even as you watch a bunch of lives get snuffed
out all in the name of “cool action scenes”.