What if someone unlocks 100% of their brain capacity to access the furthest reaches of their mind? In Lucy, Scarlett Johansson's character does just that, and unleashes a woman who becomes superhuman.
It has been theorized that humans use only about 10% of their brain capacity at any given time, but with 86 billion densely packed neurons in the brain, humans have the ability and capacity to do so much more. And Lucy is able to do so much more.
Johansson is in full action mode as Lucy, a student living in Taipei, Taiwan who is tricked by her boyfriend into delivering a briefcase to an individual she has never met. Before she knows it, a man by the name of Mr. Jang (Choi Min Sik) has his gang drag her into his office where they surgically implant a package loaded with CPH4 — a powerful synthetic substance — nuclear DNA. Mr. Jang plans to send her, along with three other pigeons, to another country with the substance planted inside of them. But his plan goes terribly wrong as the package in Lucy's abdomen starts leaking, and Lucy begins to feel everything around her — all of her sensations are heightened — and she develops superhuman traits on a scale not ever seen before. As the chemical is kicking in, she escapes her captors to get the chemical compound out of her system to prevent her from dying. But too late — the superhuman Lucy has been unleashed. Slowly her cerebral capacity expands — from 10% to 20% — and she is able to do things she wasn't able to do before, like beat the gang members up, understand foreign languages, and listen to mobile phone conversations from a distance.
Lucy is able to get to a hospital where she walks into an operating room and orders the doctor to remove the compound in her abdomen — at gunpoint. During the surgery, for which she declined to use anethesia, she makes a poignant phone call to her mother back in the United States. She tells her mom that she can feel air, vibrations, gravity, that she no longer has any fear, and that she can remember the taste of her mother's milk when she was a baby. It's a phone call that may be her last, as Lucy knows her brain functionality is out of control. She still needs to know what is happening with her, so she goes to Paris to enlist the help of Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman, who gives the film an educational bent when he tells a room full of students facts, one being that species reproduce when there is a favorable environment). Professor Norman has done decades of research on the brain's potential and is perhaps the only person on Earth who can help Lucy understand what's happening with her. But Lucy is not satisfied — she wants more CPH4 to hit 100% capacity — she's addicted to it and can't get enough. So she tracks down the other pigeons and rips it out of their guts.
But Lucy's troubles are not over yet. She's got Mr. Jang on her tail, and he and his gang want the CHP4 back. But getting it from Lucy is going to be impossible. She hooks up with Captain Del Rio (Amr Waked) and together they try to outrun Mr. Jang and his gang in Paris. In one nail-biting car chase, Lucy and Del Rio are engaged in a car chase with Mr. Jang and his gang, which takes them through the sidewalks of the famed Rue de Rivoli, next to the Louvre Museum and the Tuileries Garden, packed full of traffic and tourists. It's an intense car chase with Lucy driving against the traffic in one of Paris' busiest tourist areas. The clock is ticking against Lucy as her brain capacity continues to grow and her brain cells are reproducing at a rapid rate. From 30%, where Lucy can change her appearance, to 50%, where she can actually see cell phone conversations, and to 90%, where she can go back in time. She's colonizing her own brain and can't stop it, so she needs to get to Professor Norman, but is up against Mr. Jang and his men. Will she get there in time? And what happens when she reaches 100%?
Lucy is a film that is a combination of fact and fiction; the viewer needs to suspend belief in all that is presented but still keep an open mind. Lucy's plot alluding to CPH4 is a hypothetical one, but it does exist as it is an actual substance that pregnant women produce in the sixth week of natal development. Director and writer Luc Besson (Taken, Taken 2, Le Femme Nikita) creates a film that walks a fine line between theoretical reality and imagination, with a touch of true facts thrown in. Of course, the more Lucy experiences in the film, the more the story becomes fictional.
Johansson makes a perfect Lucy. Physically Johansson is built for the part — muscular and athletic while maintaining her femininity. Johansson can carry a gun and outrun the bad guys at any time. Similar in character to Anne Parillaud's Nikita, where she fights against the bad men and outruns and outguns them, Johansson's Lucy can do this and more. And Johansson, whose had an amazing string of hit films over the past two years (including the well-received Under My Skin, Don Jon, and her voice in Her), proves that she is the most capable and versatile actress around who can do action, comedy, adventure, science fiction — anything.
In the beginning of Lucy, we are told that 'life was given to us a billion years ago, look what we've done with it', with footage of cheetahs, snails, deer and then footage of catastrophe's - floods, typhoons — natural disasters. And at the end, we're told "Life was given to us a billion years ago, now you know what to do with it."