Friday, August 1, 2014

‘Lucy’ asks, ‘What are we doing with our lives?’

“Lucy” (2014). Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, Pilou Asbæk, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Luca Angeletti, Analeigh Tipton, Paul Chan. Director: Luc Besson. Screenplay: Luc Besson. Web site. Trailer.

A heightened sense of self-awareness is often accompanied by the realization that we each have a destiny in life. Even if we can’t always pinpoint what we’re supposed to accomplish, many of us nevertheless have an undeniable sense that we’re supposed to achieve something during our terrestrial visit. But, once we begin to understand what we’re meant to do, it’s up to us to carry through on our objectives, even if we don’t know precisely how. That’s particularly crucial when our time runs short, a concern not unlike that faced by a supremely gifted but seriously challenged protagonist in director Luc Besson’s new metaphysically themed action-adventure, “Lucy.”

When Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), a carefree American student living in Taiwan, is tricked by her shady new boyfriend (Pilou Asbæk) into delivering a locked briefcase to a mysterious recipient, Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi), she can’t begin to fathom what she’s gotten herself into. Before she knows it, Lucy is seized and drugged. Upon waking, she discovers something has been surgically implanted in her abdomen, a plastic bag filled with a powdery blue substance, the same material previously locked up in that ill-fated briefcase.

Lucy soon learns that she’s been forced into becoming a drug mule ordered to smuggle the substance, a potent new synthetic chemical known as CPH4, overseas. She and three other similarly equipped mules have been coerced by Mr. Jang to transport their illicit cargo to eager markets in Europe and the U.S. And, to make sure the unwitting couriers carry out their tasks, Jang and his thugs have threatened their lives – and those of their families – to ensure compliance.

Not long after Lucy embarks on her journey, the plastic bag containing the drug ruptures, and she’s inadvertently dosed with an enormous amount of the mystery substance. But CPH4 is more than just your garden variety hallucinogen. Lucy learns that it’s a chemical produced in pregnant women to jump-start the growth and development of fetuses. In its natural form, even small quantities of the substance can yield seemingly miraculous results. However, in an enhanced synthetic form, CPH4 significantly amplifies those effects. What’s more, while it’s known what CPH4 does for an unborn child, it’s not at all clear what it will do to a fully grown adult. And now that Lucy has absorbed an amount far in excess of what a developing fetus would absorb or what an addict would snort during a typical fix, all bets are off as to what it will do to her as it courses through her bloodstream.

In no time, the drug begins transforming Lucy in inconceivable ways. Most notably, the substance significantly enhances how much of her brain she utilizes. While most humans are thought to use approximately 10% of their cerebral cortexes, Lucy’s capability quickly reaches 20%, a figure that quickly, continually and exponentially rises. She develops a range of new powers, such as the ability to control her metabolism and bodily organs, as well as the means to sense gravity and affect ambient electromagnetic fields. Her intellect and comprehension skills soar, too, a development that affords her access to all manner of cosmic wisdom. Within hours, she easily becomes the most advanced human being ever to have walked the face of the Earth.

So what is someone to do with such powers? Well, for starters, Lucy seeks to exact revenge against those who put her in these circumstances. She learns that one of the couriers is headed for Paris, so she contacts a local detective, Capt. Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked), informing him how he and his colleagues can apprehend the other mules upon their arrival in Europe, an action intended to help authorities find those heading up the operation. But, with powers – and wisdom – like this, is vengeance all that they’re to be used for?

Given her expanded consciousness, Lucy decides it’s important to share what she knows with all of mankind. Through an incredibly accelerated Internet search, she learns of the work of Professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman), a researcher focused on evolution and brain development. She discovers that he, too, is currently in Paris and agrees to meet with him to impart her newfound wisdom.

But, as Lucy’s odyssey unfolds, she also realizes she’s in a race against time. With her mental capacity continually expanding, she’s losing touch with her humanity. She’s also not sure what will happen as she approaches 100% use of her brain capacity. With her consciousness so expanded, she fears that she may no longer be human – or even physical – by the time she reaches that point of development. With the aid of Capt. Del Rio and Professor Norman, Lucy’s trip to Paris is about to become an appointment with destiny, both in terms of confronting her foes and fulfilling her purpose in life, circumstances that carry ramifications of a magnitude no one can possibly predict.

With one’s very existence threatened, be it from “outside” sources or one’s own consciousness-generated materializations, many of us may become obsessed with accomplishing what we set out to achieve in this life before the clock gets us. Ideally, we should probably think more about our destiny before the temporal pressure mounts, making use of as much of our gray matter (and the consciousness that drives it) to fulfill these goals while we have ample time. But how many of us really do that?

The question of what are we to do with our lives probably seems like it should be a no-brainer, yet it’s amazing how many of us fail to seriously consider it until it’s almost too late, if at all. Lucy brings this concern into sharp focus, and it’s very important to her given the depth of knowledge she has to impart once her transformation begins. That truly is her destiny, and she needs to draw upon all of her conscious creation skills to make it happen while she still has the chance.

Fortunately, the kinds of cosmic wisdom to which Lucy now has access probably help to make that process easier for her. But, considering the sheer volume of what she has to share, she’ll undoubtedly have to draw upon all her metaphysical wherewithal if she’s to make that happen in time and in a form that the rest of us can access. This requires ingenuity on her part, pushing past her personal limitations – and perhaps even those of humanity itself – if she’s to succeed. But, then, this is one of the inherent aims of conscious creation itself, and, given her immensely expanded consciousness, the means for this should now be more than readily apparent to her.

To move beyond where she has been all of her life, Lucy must evolve, another of conscious creation’s cornerstone principles. This is something that, obviously, occurs during her personal transformation. But it’s important that her awareness of this change, not to mention its relevance, also take place while her physical and intellectual capabilities transform. This consideration, as Professor Norman eloquently points out, has played a crucial role in the development of all life on the planet since its inception, from the earliest of single-cell organisms to the first invertebrates to the earliest mammals and even the first-known human (a woman ironically nicknamed “Lucy”), the first Earth creature to advance knowledge beyond such simple acts as mere survival. In many ways, then, the protagonist thus represents an echo of her ancient ancestor, playing a role as significant to the forward development of contemporary man as her predecessor did in the evolution of us. She sets an inspiring example for all of us to follow.

In the course of evolving, Lucy’s expanded consciousness enables her to envision a broader range of probabilities than she – or likely anyone else – has ever been able to do. In that regard, she can see for herself – quite literally and perhaps more clearly than ever before – what conscious creation (and quantum physics, for that matter) postulates, namely, that we all have access to an infinite range of choices for existence at any given moment, based on where we put our focus. In conjunction with that, she’s also able to understand and appreciate the connectedness of everything in the cosmos across the spans of space and time. And, in this way, Lucy is able to grasp the very meaning of being in its myriad permutations and, most importantly, in its simplest and most essential nature. Talk about evolution!

If it sounds like there’s a lot going on in this movie, you’re right. “Lucy” is one of the most innovatively jam-packed pictures I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a kickass sci-fi/metaphysical thriller that packs a wallop, both in its visuals and its content. The film’s depiction of complex metaphysical concepts (many of which have likely never been examined on screen before) is handled cogently and beautifully. And its action sequences never disappoint, with Johansson serving up an intelligent, sexy, determined heroine who comes across like a badass Debbie Harry on steroids.

Regrettably, the film has come under a great deal of unfair criticism for being “unrealistic,” a disparagement I find more than a little perplexing. The picture undeniably operates from a fundamental premise of pushing the boundaries of consciousness and awareness, unexplored territory where even experts like Professor Norman are unable to speculate as to what might transpire. So, given that, then, how can the ideas being put forth here realistically be considered unbelievable? How can we presume to know what might happen if we don’t even know what’s possible under such circumstances? I, for one, find such ridicule, ironically enough, unrealistic in itself.

If I were to have a criticism of “Lucy,” it would be that it sometimes leans a little too heavily on action and violence to carry the story. While the film never becomes blatantly gratuitous in this regard, it nevertheless pushes the limits on these fronts, regardless of how well these sequences are depicted. Still, despite this minor shortcoming, the picture is nonetheless a cinematic thrill ride that also delivers on its profound, thought-provoking subject matter. Indeed, if you want some depth from an action-adventure film, go see this one – you won’t be disappointed. Just be sure to tune out the naysayers – and keep an open mind.

While not all of us are meant to fulfill a destiny as utterly groundbreaking as Lucy, we all nevertheless have something to contribute to the ever-unfolding expression of existence, and one could easily argue that it’s incumbent upon each of us to see things through. If we fail on this point, we miss our chance to realize that aspect of our being, depriving the world of our unique contribution to the creation of its reality. Whether we allow ourselves to be restrained by fear, doubt, cloudy thinking, a preoccupation with irrelevancies or a simple lack of initiative, in each case we let our potential slip away from us and those who might benefit from our singular gifts, talents and ingenuity. And that would be a shame indeed. So, to get matters right, no matter how great or how small our contributions are destined to be, it would behoove us to pay attention to Lucy and follow her lead, making the most out of our lives while we have the opportunity to do so. To do any less would be a waste of our consciousness and humanity, a genuine tragedy if there ever were one.

Copyright © 2014, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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