Almost Super: Lucy
Almost Super: Lucy 2014
This post is part of my Patreon rewards where each month I allow my patrons to vote on a movie that I will cover. This month’s mini theme was Almost Super and I picked four different films that had some superhero elements to them but I felt like I needed to fully watch them to make the final decision. This is the film that won and as you can tell by the header that I did not think that Lucy counts as a superhero movie. Even though the main character gets super powers of a sort, the majority of the film is more about the explanation of those powers rather than using those powers to become some sort of hero. If you would like to vote in these polls as well as access other rewards, all I ask is for a single dollar a month which would help me out greatly. Simply sign up at my Patreon. As for this movie, I had heard that it was a little on the weird side, but I didn’t realize quite how weird. Though once it finally took a turn towards the action side, it kept on through until the end.
The central concept of this film is based around an easily debunked piece of pseudoscience. The fact that human beings only use about 10% of their brain capacity. Humans actually use 100% of their brains, or at least pretty close, but only a percentage is active at any one time as different portions of the brain have different functions. And while that concept could work in a throwaway line as an overall explanation for Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy having super powers, the movie spends so much time doubling down on this misleading piece of science that the entire film really suffers from it. When the film is presenting me with Morgan Freeman as an expert in his field, and who eventually recruits other “top men” and they are all sold on this concept that Lucy is suddenly using a higher percentage of her brain.
What does work better is Johansson’s performance as Lucy. She starts off as the naive young girl mixed in with the wrong crowd and grows into the hyper intelligent super woman. There’s this intentionally off-putting series of mannerisms that make her seem slightly less human. It’s not quite like she’s trying to be robotic, and it’s also different from how she plays Black Widow within the MCU. There’s also this disconnect from people and social awkwardness where her speech, beyond the conversation with her mother, is generally emotionless and merely statements of facts. There’s always a purpose to her movements and it’s always a means to an end, there’s a nice touch that there’s some blood spatter on her face that remains for many scenes. It makes sense for her character because wiping off the blood does not further her ultimate goal in any way. She even makes the moments of vulnerability work quite well, like the aforementioned final talk with her mother as well as her freak out on the plane which looking back on it feels like a very post Thanos snap moment.
Another aspect of this film that feels way too far out there on the weird scale are the many moments of odd editing choices. During the beginning, there are random cuts to nature scenes for some reason. It seems to have a legitimate purpose from a symbolism standpoint. The animals represent the basic nature of Lucy herself as an earlier form of evolution as well as showing how she’s falling into a predatory trap. The unfortunate part is just how jarring and out of nowhere these hard cuts come, and after that opening scene, these symbolic cutaways are extremely few and far between. It would have fit into the film better if there had been a more diegetic way where the nature footage was coming from somewhere within the scene rather than such a hard cut. These cuts are also difficult when they’re tied to Morgan Freeman’s speech on the pseudoscience. On top of all that, there are also the hard cuts to black with the increasing percentage to represent Lucy’s increased brain capacity.
Where the film does work is in the smaller scale. There’s a nice bit of revenge crime action movie buried in this cerebral take on super powers with this Asian drug lord who won’t accept Lucy’s escape. The slight cat and mouse as well as the recruiting of a Parisian detective helps ground the film and gives a few nice action beats in between the theoretical fake science. There’s a decent car chase although some of the crashes look overly CGI. As Lucy’s powers start going further into the crazy side of things there are clear hints to Akira and the Matrix though the homages are very brief. If you’re looking for an action packed movie, look somewhere else. But this does a nice job of adding a few action beats here and there to keep things more interesting. It just would have been nice if they had either skipped the explanation completely or went with a more updated theory on brain capacity. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.