From a first look, Lucy is not the most interesting film out there. Its tagline and the entire premise for the film, that “The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity” is a false and widely disproved urban myth. Not exactly a great start.
And the synopsis, that this woman “transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic” raises my eyebrows. I only watched it because I was bored and figured there might be something in it about cybernetics.
Turns out, that’s not it at all. Far from being bad science fiction, this movie has a hidden and underlying meaning that I’m not even sure the creator intentionally included.
A brief spoiler-infused summary: Lucy is kidnapped and forced to be a drug mule. A mafioso cuts her open and places a large bag of new, never-before-used narcotics into her intestine, and tells her that they’ll let her live if she flies out to Europe and follows their instructions. During transportation, one of the criminals starts trying to rape her and repeatedly kicks her in the stomach, at which point the bag breaks and the drugs begin being absorbed into her system.
This is when things get weird. Another criminal stops her rapist, they leave her alone in the room, and she begins to levitate while spasming uncontrollably from the effects of the drug. Eventually the drug “unlocks” her mind, and she methodically takes revenge upon everyone who kidnapped and abused her, using magical new powers including telekinesis and controlling invisible radio waves.
Now normally, the point at which magic enters into a movie is when there is a break from reality – which in any normal situation would be considered madness. Notice that it is as she is about to be raped that Lucy develops magical supernatural abilities. She is able to protect herself where a regular human being would have been powerless. She is able to stop feeling pain, and at the end of the movie, she even evolves into a “god”, becoming ethereal while her body disappears from existence entirely.
The film’s hidden message: Madness and dissociation as coping mechanisms
What actually happens? Everything after the rape begins is Lucy’s attempts to deal with the severe trauma of rape and torture with dissociation. She fantasizes that she has magical powers that rescue her from her predicament. She imagines and dreams of punishing her attackers. She switches off her ability to feel pain. And at the end, she even dissociates so entirely as to become a disembodied entity with no feelings whatsoever.
The entire second section of the movie happens in her mind, as she grows increasingly insane from the drugs and abuse, and creates this alternate reality in which she has infinite power and control over a situation in which she is actually completely powerless.
It’s actually quite brilliant when you see it. I just wonder whether Luc Besson wrote the movie this way intentionally or not…