As I watched "HER", I felt confirmed in my assessment. Scarlett Johanson does not appear, but you hear her voicing the operating system HER. Wow! I daresay the movie has its considerable impact by her voice only, or already. Definitely a recommendation, and set apart from the regular blockbuster experience.
I was not interested in "Lucy" because of Johanson, though. I treated her appearance rather as a possible recommendation, that the movie would not be too bad. And Luc Besson still stirs good memories from "Leon" and "Fifth Element". Sadly, "Lucy" cannot be put on the same pedestal.
While I was enjoying to see another elaboration of what could be if humans actually evolved to transhuman capacities, there were too many shortcomings here:
- The movie focuses on Lucy and maybe the totally evil drug dealer boss as a counterpart. Morgan Freeman remains more as of a off-screen story teller. Which is too little. Also, while Johanson gives considerable try to show a human loosing his/its humanity, the movie does not really focus on this part either, and just turns into some brainless action scenery.
- The action sequences are few and not really connected to the movie´s main theme, or, message. Transhumanism has very little to do with some levitation, animated CT vision, shootouts or a car racing, with considerable ethically not tolerable apparent deaths of innocent bystanders. Questionable and a good thought provoking scene only the moment where she shoots a patient on the operating table, having deduced that he would die by his tumour anyways (this is the moment where you have to realize that Lucy starts loosing some kind of humanity, much better than the moment thereafter with a very weird phone call to her mom).
- A weird kind of an ending. Leave it, Besson, Cubrick´s "2001: Space Odyssey" did this kind of ending. While Lucy does it in a graphical much, much better and none-too-long winded way, maybe it is the curse of becoming older that you have already seen this and done that. Not much to impress you is left. Although I did love the idea that it is all about time. There is no movie beyond brainless timetravel paradox thingies, which actually focus on the scientific and connected philosophical nature of time. But again, the movie does not really elaborate much on it. What a pity.
- Very little human interaction, more like scientific treatises. If they would be a bit more thought provoking, maybe, but as such they are too little to keep a whole movie afloat. One good scene though was when Lucy gave a kiss to the cop; to "remember". Never I saw a so unemotional, remote, disconnected kind of a movie kiss; this was right to the point and I wish the movie had more of those little things showing that something is really off with Lucy (waah the potential! though not exploited by the movie, sad, sad!).
- The movie also has some entertaining artistic cut scenes to show the animal world, which emphasize the topic of evolution by showing certain animal behaviours. It worked well in the beginning when it was an allegory of Lucy becoming victim to the predator of a drug cartel boss. In fact, a marvelled at this scene. However, later scenes just degenerate into a dumb visualisation of evolution theories, dumb and overcome ones, at that.
- The supernatural abilities are too many and too overdone to be explained by a mere increase of "cerebral processing capacity", you know, the old myth that human only use 10% of their brain. If you want to have a story about superheroes, do a story about superheros, but not this. Potential within our brains, would be rather about consciousness, as in, versus, unconsciousness. Bluntly speaking, perhaps it is not a bad thing that our consciousness is oblivious of many of our bodily things. I wouldn´t want to experience and feel in every cellular detail the process of digestion, for example, of the process how that wonderful steak (by the way, also just a collection of tissue, fat and muscle fiber from a dead animal) turns into something brown and stinky to be dropped in your toilet. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked. If you want to focus on the thought power of the sub consciousness, you have to access topics like intelligence, dreams, hallucinations or spirituality and theology. Besson´s movie here does not do anything of this.
- Last but not least, since a certain hominine creature also makes its appearance in-between, the name and allegory to Lucy is of course called for in vain; I cannot see any connection apart from some blunt and cliché "life was given to us a billion years ago. What have we done with it" voice over.
Bottomline, if you are interested to watch a good movie which both speculates about the individual human potential (by focusing on the subconscious "intelligence") and delivers some good entertainment, without any metaphysically ridiculous mumbo-jumbo, go and watch "Limitless"! (And I cannot tell you how much I would want this particular type of pill for myself! A clean room, a clear and sorted mind, jay!)
The only scene I will probably take with me in my memory, is when Lucy, depraved of her sustaining super-power-drug, starts to dissolve. I feel sometimes like this, falling apart in an attempt to choose immortality, self-sufficiency and self management, and can relate. Perhaps the best metaphysical scene and allegory in the whole movie.
But hey, all in all, I do not want to be understood as too critical. The movie was still better than your average blockbuster and it at least dared to tackle some serious topics beyond the average clichées. I am not going often to cinema and I do not regret watching Lucy.
And finally, to come back to something more banal about this blog´s topic, as to factor in also my passion of computer games; because of my interest in the topic of virtual reality and trans humanism, I will definitly try "Civilisation: Beyond Earth". If it comes any close to the master game of all, "Alpha Centauri", it should hand you a nice game system with lots of tactical depth and replayability, as well as some good and entertaining food for thoughts on the human potential, of where we could go, what we would want to achieve in this world. What has this to do with Lucy and the human potential? Well, the moodiest end of Alpha Centauri includes you turning into a giant planet-wide mushroom colony. How about that.