Earlier my friend Steven Savage and I were reminiscing about the way literary SF in the 60s and 70s had enjoyed a burst of maverick creativity. I felt the reason why written science fiction was such a bowl of gorp* at the time revolved around a few things. Most of them were market conditions.
After stuff like 2001 came and went, it started to become clear to publishers that there were tons of young people with tons of disposable income who wanted to read science fiction, so they started putting out most anything that fit the bill. After Star Wars, the dam really burst, but even before then there was the sense of an unmet need.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: Lucy isn’t science fiction. It’s science foolishness. It relies on one of the most egregious misstatements of scientific fact—that human beings only use ten percent of their brainpower—as the linchpin for a movie so enjoyably bonkers that in the end it doesn’t really matter how dumb its core premise is. This movie is the cinematic incarnation of the old cliché, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” This one breakdances.
The premise is simple; what becomes derived from that premise, not so simple. Lucy (Scarlett Johannson), a woman living and studying in Taiwan, gets tricked by her sleazy boyfriend into delivering a case to some Korean mobster types led by the sinister Mr. Jang (an underused Choi Min-sik, the original Oldboy). The case contains some new, experimental drug soon to be flooding the streets. She's just won the drug-mule lottery, and so a terrified Lucy gets to have a packet of the stuff sewn into her guts. At one point she’s manhandled by one of her minders, and the packet bursts over and begins leaking. The drug turns Lucy into, well, super-Lucy.