Luc Besson’s new sci-fi thriller Lucy could easily have been titled Mercury in Hyperdrive, a breathless tale about the archetype that rules thought and communication gone cinematically ballistic.
Bigger, faster and stronger describe the new-and-improved mental delivery system involuntarily foisted on a young woman, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson). Lucy is studying in Taiwan and, through the unsavory guiles of a boyfriend, she becomes the captive of a mob headed by the ruthless Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik).
To transport a new, potent, blue-hued recreational drug, the traffickers surgically implant a bag of the stuff in her abdomen. But a violent incident perpetrated by one of the guards results in serious leakage of the product inside her, which makes an instantaneous impact on her brain, radically enhancing her personal mind-body connection.
For movie audiences with an affinity for archetypes, everything prior to this is merely an excuse to flood Lucy’s system with the substance. And, if Lucy initially has no idea what’s happening to her, we do. Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), lecturing on the rare, mind-boggling mental and physical feats corresponding to increased brain capacity, fills us in. His discourse is pretty much what we’ll soon witness as Lucy, with a massive amount of the drug coursing through her tissues, rips through the limits of how humans think and reason.
At the narrative level, it’s a safe bet that Lucy will meet up with Norman, who’s probably the only person alive who can help her address her alarming trajectory. Car chases, mind games and physical displays of super-human prowess are involved.
But the real thrill of the film is its archetypal richness. In demonstrating Lucy’s violent catapulting towards the apex of her brain capacity, Besson has coupled Mercury with the expansiveness of Jupiter, the sudden eruptions of the futuristic Uranus, the strength and aggression of Mars, and the utter power and vengefulness of Pluto.
Literally, the movie’s about a big, strong, out-of-control brain. But Besson also works in more subtle, deeply felt references. There’s Saturnine commitment and self-mastery – Lucy will work through this her way – as well as an exquisitely Lunar tenderness between a mother and child. Impossible to know his intentions, but Besson also seems to be referencing French theologian Teilhard de Chardin, whose life work addressed the evolution of the universe itself towards consciousness and what he calls the Omega Point. In Lucy’s case, her participation in this heady end game is first about Venusian values, and then the higher Venus, symbolized by Neptune and its ties to transcendent love and sacrifice.
Lucy: See it for the rush. Think about it – at whatever brain capacity you’re at – for its depth.
Archetype: Self-mastery, Thinker, Infinite Knowledge, Avenger
Astrology Archetype: ☿ (Mercury)