Lucy: Darwin Explains Star Wars

As far as college girls go, Lucy’s pretty normal.  She loves her parents, loves studying abroad, and she loves to party.  She’s not so sure she loves Richard, however, and she trusts him even less.  And she may not be brightest chick on the block, but she has enough smarts to know that delivering a mystery briefcase for $1000 is sketchy.  But then he handcuffs her to the case, leaving her with no choice but to go forward.  Before she knows it, she’s thrown headfirst into a drug and human trafficking ring, forced to travel with a pouch of drugs in her stomach.  Things get even more complicated when it bursts, and it unlocks the hidden power of her brain, power that makes her . . . well, something of an evolutionary jedi.

If I were to describe how I felt about Luc Besson’s supposed creative genius as the movie progressed, I would probably use a regular distribution diagram.  Like this one:


Although, I’m partial to the outline of Diglett myself:


I’m being facetious.  But I really have to be in order to approach this film.  It’s based on the faulty science that human beings only have access to 10 percent of their brains (there are a great deal of neurons whose activity remains a mystery, but the “10 percent” fact is a myth).  It relies heavily on Darwin imagery, with the opening scene of the film depicting what the famous human ancestor Lucy must have looked like when she was living.  The first hour of the film further relies on this imagery, moving between Lucy’s terrifying experience and Morgan Freeman giving a presentation on the theory.

Despite the fact that the film is based on obviously bad science, this unique presentation style works.  Besson also works in a fair amount of natural imagery, sometimes with clever uses, such as unsuspecting animals as Lucy is about to walk into a trap.     If there’s nothing else to say for the film, its presentation is certainly creative.


I can’t deny that the premise of the film is interesting, as well.  The idea of unlocking brain power carries with it a lot of possibility, which the film explores without restraint.  That fact is the film’s biggest selling point, but it soon becomes the film’s biggest downfall, too.

Some of the things that Lucy gains the ability to do follow naturally from brainpower.  She can receive radio waves, predict what other people will say and do, and even access other people’s brains when she touches them.  But those cool ideas soon grow ridiculous as Lucy’s brain access grows.  It somehow follows that she can control other people remotely, access telekinesis, and for reasons nobody knows and the film does not bother to explain, time travel.

Oh, and she pukes blue rainbows, too.  There is that.

All of this considered, my stance on the film should be entirely without conflict.  It’s utterly ridiculous, especially for a thriller by the same guy that is well known for making good films with strong female leads, and also happened to write the Taken films.  But even with a a strong argument against the film as a quality sci-fi thriller, it still manages to somehow be enjoyable.  I can’t help but credit this to the film’s cast.  Even with a script that borders on ludicrous, Scarlett Johnasson’s performance is nothing short of spectacular, and Morgan Freeman is great as always, even spending half the movie at a lectern.  So I can argue, quite convincingly I might add, that the movie is bad.  But I can’t necessarily say that it isn’t enjoyable.  Which brings me to the third realm of consideration: the film’s point.  And that, if it has one, is the proverbial nail in the coffin.


Like other films before it, Lucy is a fantastical worship of Darwinism, a insistence that evolution will bring humanity to the heights of a god.  And in Lucy in particular, that almost seems like an understatement.  Even more troubling is the evolution that Lucy undergoes as she gains access to more of her brainpower.  She describes the emotions and aspirations of the modern-day human as distractions.  We’re missing the point, she says:

“Humans consider themselves unique so they’ve rooted there whole theory of existence on their uniqueness. One is their unit of measure, but it’s not. All social systems we’ve put into place are a mere sketch. One plus one equals two. That’s all we’ve learned, but one plus one has never equaled two. There are, in fact, no numbers and no letters. We’ve codified our existence to bring it down to human size to make it comprehensible. We’ve created a scale so that we can forget its unfathomable scale.”

So everything we know is false.  Then what is true?  According to Lucy, time.  Time is the only thing can be trusted.  This fits perfectly into a naturalistic worldview.  Time is what allowed evolution to take place.  Time is why we were granted an intelligent existence.  But in adopting a view of reality that is rooted on postmodernism, with only the value of passing on knowledge acknowledged (and why that is particularly moral never explained), the film has nothing left to stand on.  And aside from the unexplained passing line “we never really die,” the film leaves no room for a Christian worldview, but only one that portrays the most extreme brand of naturalistic humanism.

Logan Judy
Logan Judy is a Christian blogger and science fiction author with a Batman complex. At Cross Culture, Logan writes about film, comics, cultural analysis, and whatever else strikes his fancy. In addition to his work at Cross Culture, Logan also blogs and podcasts at A Clear Lens. You can find him tweeting about Batman, apologetics, and why llamas will one day rule the world, @loganrjudy.
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