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MOVIE REVIEW: Lucy

Genre: Action, cerebral
Released: July 25, 2014
Director: Luc Besson
Producer: Virginie Silla
Studio: Universal Pictures
Starring: Scarlett Johanssen, Morgan Freeman

I always said that if I had to do my life over again, I would devote my working career to the study of the brain. It’s fascinating to think that we have yet to discover the potential of our own brains. “Lucy,” the new cerebral movie starring Scarlett Johanssen, recently rekindled my curiosity of the wonders of the brain.

The movie centers around Johanssen’s character, Lucy, who gets forced into a drug trafficking ring unexpectedly, when a drug lord kidnaps her and has a bag of a new kind of synthetic drug that can enhance brain power surgically implanted in her stomach. It doesn’t take much to figure out what happens next. Unfortunately, the entire plot of the movie is based on an inaccurate statistic that has been lingering around since the 1900s.

The myth that we only use 10 percent of our brain, so I’ve read, actually stems from studies started in the 1870s by German physiologist Gustav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig, who would surgically remove parts of the brain in animals to see what affects it had on them.

As time carried on, more researchers picked up the study, but could only figure out 10 percent of the brain’s function, thanks much to reactionary muscle twitching. The other 90 percent was still a mystery as the animals never twitched when that area of the brain was stimulated. It turns out that other 90 percent affects the animal’s thinking and feelings, which apparently these researchers didn’t realize to study.

But from there, that “10 percent’ quote turned into a sort of Chinese whisper, to which the study’s findings somehow were misinterpreted and, to this day, is used as truth. In comes Hollywood to keep such a myth alive.

In the movie “Lucy,” I will admit I was a bit captivated by the scene in which Morgan Freeman’s character, Professor Norman, a neuroscientist whom Lucy befriends to help her understand what to do with her growing brain power, speaks about the evolution of the human brain. Leave it to Freeman’s cool, nostalgic-like voice and demeanor to win you over into believing anything.

Sadly, the producers in “Lucy” didn’t put enough thought into this movie (yes, pun is intended). Perhaps I’m missing something. If, in this scenario — where the 10 percent myth is actually true — I was suddenly smarter, having the ability to use 20 percent of my brain (twice as smart as anyone else), then why am I going to silly-minded Prof. Norman for help with anything? Wouldn’t I know what to do next? Wouldn’t conversations with this “dim-witted” professor be like talking about how babies are made with a 4-year-old?

Alas, we, in fact, we DO use 100 percent of our brain…well, most of us anyway. I understand this is a science fiction movie, but the makers of this movie play on a myth that is so inaccurate, you might as well have a movie based on the belief that the moon is actually made out of cheese.

Although some of the graphics were great, I was hoping for a movie with really great Johanssen action combined with a real thinker of a plot, but I ended up frustrated that the producers actually did use only 10 percent of their brains when thinking this script up.

Oh, and the extreme close-ups of Johanssen you would think are more than welcomed are actually a bit distracting, at least in two scenes, one with her running nose and the other with her faint lip ‘stache. Bravo to the cinema technique, but be sure those little things don’t become a distraction to what you’re trying to portray.

Ryan Schlehuber is the features editor for The Daily News is a movies junkie who loves the whole experience of going to the movie theater. His likes, as far as movies go, range from action to scary to drama to documentaries, and admits he can watch “Snatch,” “Tommy Boy,” “Indiana Jones,” “Shaun of the Dead,” “French Kiss” and “Castaway” on a daily basis.
Reviewed by Ryan Schlehuber "Scoop" on 27 July 2014

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