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Film: Lucy

Lucy is a 2014 superhero/action/gangster film directed by Luc Besson, starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), is a young woman living in Taipei, Taiwan, who is forced into working as a drug mule for the mob. The drug is inserted into her abdomen in a pouch, which ruptures when she is attacked, causing her body to absorb the drug, changing her into a meta-human. She can absorb knowledge instantaneously, is able to move objects with her mind and can't feel pain and other discomforts. This is due to the drug progressively causing her to access more and more of her brain's capabilities.

This film provides examples of:

  • 90% of Your Brain : 10% is apparently baseline human. When Lucy gets exposed to CPH4, she gets more and more of her brain power unlocked. The more she uses the greater her powers become.
  • Above Good and Evil: The increased brain function causes Lucy to see the conflicts of humanity as "primitive." Hence, the lessening of her ethical inhibitions. However, it should be noted that while she is ruthlessly pragmatic (murdering a patient who would have died on the table anyway so the surgeon won't be busy), Lucy's intentions are actually directed towards a greater good.
  • Action Girl: Lucy is this after first absorbing the drug, as she uses guns and knives and fights physically. Later on, though, she leaves that aside and only makes use of her mental capacities to face the obstacles coming her way.
  • Artistic License - Biology: Drug induced superpowers, brain usage fallacies (that many MANY people are hung up over)-in fact, Besson admitted most of the science stuff is wrong, but went with it anyway in a What If? scenario.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Once Lucy hits 100%, she dissipates, becoming everything.
  • Attempted Rape: When she was chained up in the holding cell, one of the Triad thugs did get around to copping some feels on her and was getting ready to escalate things. The attempt stopped when Lucy resisted which pissed off the thug and led to her getting pummeled.
  • Audience Surrogate: Pierre Del Rio, according to Besson. While he is a police chief with weapons proficiency, he is literally taken for a ride by Lucy, just like the audience. He serves to remind her of her lost humanity, with him questioning some of her more morally ambiguous decisions, such as her reckless driving through Parisian streets. There are also hints that she might be attracted to him, such as the kiss she gives him after telekinetically incapacitating the Korean gang to retrieve the leftover drugs.
  • Badass Normal: Del Rio, as shown in the final shootout.
  • Big Bad: Jang, the leader of the drug ring.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Although Luc Besson declared he aimed for Grey and Gray Morality, the drug dealers are too vile to fit that. That being said, the rest are cops\security officers just doing their job, and Lucy's Blue and Orange Morality (with moments of Sociopathic Hero).
  • Body Horror: When Lucy is on the airplane to Paris she begins to undergo a cellular breakdown due to lack of exposure to the drug. First her teeth fall out, then her skin begins to shed, and finally her face disintegrates before she literally pulls herself together. In an intentional example, she mutates her own hand (including a pair of conjoined hands, Creepy Long Fingers, and even a frog-like membrane hand) as she gives a lecture to Professor Norman and his colleagues.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Lucy steals the remaining three packets from the gangsters, they witness her do such things as make an invisible wall, send all their guns fly up into the ceiling, then send the gangsters flying to the ceiling. The gangsters just get pissed, get more guns, and wage an all-out assault on the university to get their drugs back. Mind you, one of the guys personally witnessed said acts and joins the assault anyway.
  • Celestial Body: The sum total of all of Lucy's knowledge regarding the universe can be condensed to fit onto an elongated USB stick seemingly made of stars.note 
  • Character Development: Lucy covers the whole spectrum, from Damsel in Distress to Action Girl to Physical God.
  • Character Filibuster: Lucy tends to go on at length about her changing perceptions of the world and how it works once she starts getting her powers.
  • The Comically Serious: Lucy turns into it at times, as she displays and talks about her new abilities with no concern about how weird they seem to anyone else.
  • Convulsive Seizures: The first effect of the drug hitting Lucy's system. Including on the walls and ceiling.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: It can be seen as this, specially considering the Humanoid Abomination Lucy starts to become in the end.
  • Creepy Monotone: Not so much at the start, but once Lucy wakes up after her exposure to the drug, her actions and tone gradually become more and more low-key until by the end she is speaking and doing things very matter-of-factly.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The bad guys have invented a synthetic version of a compound that aids in fetal growth. The medical applications of such a drug are endless, and that's before it turns Lucy into a Physical God. They plan to market it as super-crack.
  • Deus Exit Machina: The only reason the gangsters get to be a threat at the climax is the film is because Lucy has to focus all of her energy on passing on her knowledge, leaving the fighting to the outgunned normal police.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lucy takes the wheel from her cop friend when the gangsters are trying to get the CPH4. She's never driven before, takes the absolute quickest route, and undoubtedly breaks every traffic law known to man in the process. Thanks to her powers, however, she doesn't hit a single car doing it. Rather, her car doesn't hit another vehicle. Lucy smacks other cars around like crazy though.
  • Dual Wielding: Lucy uses two silenced handguns at one point, shooting mooks through closed doorways with accuracy.
    • Non-weapon example: She uses two laptops at once, typing at lightning speed.
  • Dull Surprise: After Lucy gets the drug in her system, she expresses little to no emotion for the remainder of the film. This seems to be an effect of the drug itself.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The opening montage uses Taipei 101 to establish that city, as well as several shots of the trope-naming structure when it gets to Paris.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: Lucy leaves only her clothing behind when she reaches 100%.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: A flesh-eating dinosaur is shown during Lucy's trip through time. She time jumps as it lunges at her (one of the only times post-drug that she displays actual emotion; see Dull Surprise.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: A dog at Taiwanese customs gets excited by Lucy, until she looks him off.
  • Fantastic Drug: The nootropic drug CPH4. It's a synthetic version of a fetal compound produced by pregnant mothers. In small doses, it gives quite the kick. Lucy's extremely large dose gives her superpowers but will also surely kill her.
  • Feel No Pain: Lucy tells the surgeon taking the drug packets out of her that she won't need anesthesia, and indeed has a phone conversation with her mother during the operation. Her only tears are due to the phone call, not the operation.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Lucy getting the last packets of CPH4 from the gangsters at the hospital (except it's not actually a charge, more of a Foe Tossing Stroll).
  • Freudian Trio: Jang is the ID, he's a hedonist who loves getting his hands dirty in killing people and he's willing to gun down French gendarmes and take on a Physical God because they screwed over his drug deal. Lucy is the Super Ego, her emotions have atrophied to the point where she doesn't feel fear or pain or even a sense of conscience beyond convenience and what she rationalizes. The Ego is Del Rio or Professor Norman, it's these two men that try to mitigate Lucy's action by reasoning with her and appealing to what remains of her morality.
  • Gilligan Cut: A doctor tells Del Rio he gave Lucy "a shot so big, she'll be asleep all day". The next thing we see is Lucy waking up.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Knowing that her existence isn't sustainable in the long term, Lucy spends her last hours accumulating knowledge and finding a way to transfer it to humanity as a whole, before disintegrating one last time.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: A central trope of the film, through a Psycho Serum.
  • Humanshifting: Lucy alters her hair from slightly fluffy, chin-length, and blonde to sleek, shoulder-length, and brunette after the Taiwan authorities send out a bulletin showing her face. As her powers grow, she's able to change her entire body structure at will, which she demonstrates by morphing her hand into two hands connected to the same wrist, extending claws, producing webbing between her fingers, and other such traditionally non-human phalangeal attributes.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Lucy basically becomes this by the end. Amorality? Check. Reality Warper powers? Check. Access to incomprehensible knowledge? Check. Being able to control time itself and in fact becoming existence itself?. Yeah, she's basically Yog-Sothoth by the end (except she helps humanity by giving them all of her knowledge).
  • Hospital Surprise: Lucy, after the scene in the airplane bathroom.
  • Invincible Hero: By the time Lucy gets to Paris she is completely unstoppable. The only limitation is the need to take more and more of the drug to prevent disintegrating.
  • Jerkass: Richard, who forces Lucy into the drug job by handcuffing the package to her. Karma paid him back with a bullet to the head.
  • Karma Houdini: The man in charge of the drug smuggling disappears after his one scene explaining the job to Lucy. Though by the end of the film his operation is in ruins, the cops are likely on his tail, and Lucy, who has become God in all but name, could more than likely blink him out of his existence with a snap of her (nonexistent) fingers.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Richard handcuffs Lucy to the suitcase so that she has to face the mobsters he'd been making deals with. Seconds later, he's shot in the head.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: During her breakout from the Triad holding cell, Lucy was shot. Her only reaction is amusement, as she pulls the bullet out of her shoulder and drop it on a table. Later, she also undergoes abdominal surgery and has a big bag of drugs removed from her without anesthesia. She doesn't even pay attention as she's too busy talking to her mom. In both cases justified, she no longer feels pain and she's starting to develop some mental control over her body including altering her hair length and color. So it's not improbable that she's developed a Healing Factor as well.
  • Meaningful Name: It is lampshaded early on that "Lucy" is, besides the name of the protagonist, the name of the Australopithecus considered to be the first human which she mentally visits at the end.
    • A bit of Fridge Logic: the metahuman protagonist may take on the same significance as the apish Lucy by being the first human to ascend. Pretty sure "How To Ascend" is the first document on that thumb drive. As more humans ascend and they form a new pantheon, she'll be regarded as a history-maker.
  • Mind over Matter: From early on, Lucy uses her psychokinetic abilities like a seasoned Jedi. However, she appears to be using them through control of neuronal impulses and electromagnetic activity rather than traditional methods.
  • Mind Rape: Subverted somewhat when Lucy gets the mules' flight information from Jang. She just extracts the information without inflicting any mental anguish (of course, at the same time she's pinned his hands to a chair with knives).
  • Mind Screw: Given how the director described the movie as "one part Leon, one part Inception and one part 2001: A Space Odyssey", you know he will aim for something to make audiences scratch their heads. The Going Cosmic ending in particular shows the 2001 influence in "WTF".
  • Mood Whiplash: As usual for Luc Besson, very dark scenes will suddenly have a laugh abruptly shoved in, usually thanks to Lucy's deadpan explanations of what she's doing to the shock of whoever she's talking to.
  • Morality Chain: Lucy keeps Del Rio around, even though he himself acknowledges his own uselessness, because it helps keep her focused on helping people.
  • Moral Dissonance: Once Lucy gets uplifted, she has no problems with gunning down innocent people but oddly she later spares the lives of Triad members who are trying to kill her. In fact, she doesn't even bother knocking them out.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Some reviewers have warned readers that if you've seen the trailer, you've seen almost all the action sequences in the film.
    • Some trailers give the impression that Morgan Freeman's character is the villain of the film, or at least is the man behind Lucy gaining her powers. He isn't at all.
    • On some level, it seems like Lucy might be the threat of the movie...but much of the moral is based around Transhumanism Is Bad being a fundamentally flawed premise, as Lucy actually becomes more altruistic as she develops her superhuman sense of others (in general, mind, she does find individuals a bit of a non-issue).
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Thank you Mook No. 7 for kicking Lucy in the stomach, opening the bag of Fantastic Drug, and kicking off her transformation into a Reality Warper.
    • Also Richard for suckering Lucy into the situation in the first place.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The thug kept kicking Lucy in her barely sewn-up belly, to the point that the drug bag ruptured. He would have kept on doing so if his partner didn't restrain him.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Taken Up to Eleven after Lucy is exposed to the CPH4. Lucy can not only flawlessly remember every detail of her life all the way to the womb, but can remember details she couldn't possibly have been consciously aware of, such as the sound of her own bones growing.
  • The Omniscient: By the time she reaches the Taiwanese airport, Lucy is able to see Del Rio's office in perfect detail from halfway around the planet.
  • The Omnipresent: Lucy at 100% diffuses into the universe as a sapient thought that touches everything. She uses this to communicate the knowledge she's gained to the world.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: During her breakout from the Triad prison, she got shot in one shoulder. Not only did this not slow her down, but she reaches into the wound and drops the bullet on the table where the thugs were eating.
  • Organic Technology: When Lucy taps into 90% of her brain at the film's climax, she creates what Morgan Freeman's character describes as a "new generation computer" from her own body mass. It looks like something straight out of Prototype.
  • Physical God: Lucy is this near the end of the film.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Things all go down once Richard is shot.
  • Poor Communication Kills: If Lucy told Del Rio why exactly they were racing to the hospital, he could have called ahead and warned his colleagues about the Triad hit squad. She probably knew what was going to happen but did not care.
  • Power Floats: Lucy first realizes the effects of the drug when she wakes up on the ceiling.
  • Product Placement: Panning up Lucy's backside as she's walking through the Taipei airport conveniently allows us to see the trademarknote  red soles of the Louboutin heels she's wearing.
    • Also, there are an awful lot of Samsung products featured prominently in the film...
  • Protagonist Title: Lucy is the protagonist, and lends her name to the title.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Lucy inflicts a very minor one on a flight attendant to buy herself some time to finish working on her twin laptops.
  • Psycho Serum: The CPH4 gives Lucy amazing powers, but deadens her emotions to the point that she at best marginally cares about other people.
  • Reality Warper: Lucy's powers seem relatively limitless, described in the plot synopsis as "a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic."
  • Right Now Montage: The film opens with sped-up scenes of the day beginning in Taipei.
  • Science Is Bad: Nope. Lucy is terrifying, but the film also shows her developing the moral and mental maturity to use her power responsibly and actually becoming a more altruistic person (if rather more uncaring of individuals) as a result. The overall theme seems to be the idea that power is a mixed bag; there's wonder with the horror.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During the Paris car chase, a man is reading a newspaper with an article on Pacific Rim.
    • The Australopithecus "Lucy" is a ringer for Moonwatcher, and the featureless black USB stick at the end looks to have dimensions proportionally 1-4-9. Cue up Richard Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" please.
  • Show Some Leg: After first being exposed to the drug, Lucy tempts her guard with the implication of sex to get him to come within arm's reach, at which point she easily beats him up and frees herself.
  • Sistine Steal: Done in first person, no less, when Lucy begins mentally traveling back in time after unlocking 99% of her brain and meets what is implied to be the first human (who also happens to be named Lucy).
    • Echoed at the end, when the supercomputer Lucy has become extends a projection to Morgan Freeman with the USB drive.
    • Lampshaded. The actual painting was shown during a montage.
  • Sociopathic Hero:
  • Stable Time Loop: It's implied that Lucy meeting humanity's hominid ancestor is what started humanity's evolution into what it is now.
  • The Stoic: Lucy, after being affected by the drug. Justified, as the more powerful she becomes, the more emotionally detached she is.
  • Superpower Lottery: Shape-shifting, telepathy, time travel. Just for starters.
  • Superpower Meltdown: Lucy's powers make her unstoppable, but her cells now consume so much energy that she literally disintegrates if she doesn't have a supply of CPH4 to fuel them.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When the head gangster gives Lucy An Offer You Can't Refuse, she foolishly tells him that she does not want a job. This gets her a hit to the face that knocks her out and the drugs are inserted into her body while she is unconscious. The movie lampshades this by showing that at that moment Lucy was so deep in shock that her brain was operating at only 1% capacity.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Lucy goes from being a naive and helpless victim to becoming a Physical God.
  • Treasure Chest Cavity: Lucy is operated on and has the wonder drug sealed in her stomach. Reality Ensues when it breaks because of one of her captors stupidly kicking her in the stomach, exposing her to the drug and kicking off the plot. Lucy then goes after the other three mules to get the drugs they carry.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Played with. Lucy's perspective becomes increasingly alien as her power amplifies...but she also comes to appreciate life in general more, even once going out to admit she never truly understood how much she cared for her mother until she developed a perfect memory of her childhood.
  • Uh-Oh Eyes: One time Lucy wakes up has her eyes flashing through different sets of animal eyes; she also gets glowing (or just really intense) creepy blue eyes during and shortly after CPH4 doses.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The drug lord is shown working closely with a British man when Lucy and the other men receive their "assignment". He appears to be the "brains" behind the drug. He also states that if the mules are caught or go to the police, their families will be killed. After his one scene, this character is never heard of nor referenced again. Also, no reference is made to any of the mules' families actually being in danger after they are caught and Lucy speaks to her mom, who appears to be safe, after she goes off the grid. Apparently it was an empty threat.
  • White Void Room: Lucy creates one of these at 80%.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Averted. Lucy actual becomes more rational with her developing power, and more mindful of using it for good ends. Unfortunately, this has its detriments to her morality.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Lucy comes to believe this as she transcends normal limits of perception and comes to truly appreciate how vast and complex the world is.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Lucy ultimately does not believe in this, saying that knowledge in and of itself is not dangerous, only acting in ignorance.

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