A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lucy is a sci-fi/action movie starring Scarlett Johansson. The violence gets fairly graphic, with lots of shoot outs and blood splattering everywhere. The main female character is manhandled, punched, and kicked, and she also kills some bad guys without consequence. The plot concerns fictitious drugs and using drug mules to smuggle them, which requires some bloody operations to get them in and out of people's bellies. There are some quick documentary-like flashback scenes of sex between animals as well as between humans, and the main character sometimes wears sexy, objectifying outfits. Language isn't frequent but does contain at least two uses of "s--t." Characters sometimes drink alcohol. It's all pretty intense, but the movie is so slick and thoughtful that teens may come away thinking about the ideas more than the iffy content.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a pretty normal young woman, living in Taipei and dating a delivery guy for the local mob. But when she gets roped into delivering a suitcase to the boss, Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik), she unwittingly becomes a mule for a new kind of drug, carrying it in her stomach cavity. When the bag bursts and the drug is released, Lucy discovers untapped portions of her brain beginning to work. She's suddenly able to see and feel everything. As the drug continues to open up her brain, she begins to be able to move matter. She decides to collect the rest of the drug to buy herself some time and then meet with brain expert Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) to decide what to do with her knowledge. But Mr. Jang is on her trail.
Is it any good?
Scientists have already pointed out that the idea that humans use only 10 percent of the brain is a myth, but that shouldn't detract from the fun of Luc Besson's terrific LUCY. It's a movie that manages to be thoughtful and exciting at the same time. Smarter than Transcendence and more exhilarating than Limitless, Lucy showcases Besson's skill and enthusiasm. His wide frame is filled with colorful cityscapes and a dazzling array of information and input. His jokey little documentary flashbacks broaden the scope, and he crafts slick, clear, superior action sequences.
Yet the movie hinges on Johannson's potent, searching performance, constantly recording the information around her. Her process, moving from struggle to awareness, is highly appealing. (When she pauses to phone her mom, her need is fully apparent.) Then, after all the fighting is done, Lucy leaves mankind with a message of hope. It may be a silly, pulpy "B" movie, but it's a good one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Lucy's violence. How much was necessary to get across the movie's point? Was it enough? Too much? How did it make you feel?
How does the drug smuggling subplot enhance or detract from the movie as a whole?
What does the main character learn with her enhanced intellect? What lessons can be taken away from this movie?
Is the main character a strong female role model? Why or why not?
What scientific concepts did you learn from the movie? What further research would you be interested in doing? Do humans really only use 10 percent of their brain?
- In theaters: July 25, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: January 20, 2015
- Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Analeigh Tipton
- Director: Luc Besson
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love action and sci-fi
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch