She has the power.
Kicking off with that hoary pseudo-scientific chestnut that humans use only 10% of the brain’s capacity, Luc Besson has come up with a dizzyingly silly, extravagantly enjoyable sci-fi thriller in which Scarlett Johansson gets to deploy the other 90%.
The latest in a line of gorgeously lethal Besson heroines, Johansson’s Lucy starts the film as a naïve expat American living in Taiwan whose lack of smarts allows her to fall into the clutches of a vicious criminal gang.
The crooks, headed by Oldboy star Choi Min-sik’s ruthless Mr Jang, have an experimental new drug they wish to peddle in Europe, a synthetic version of the hormone CPH4 that women release during pregnancy. And the unwilling Lucy is press-ganged to be one of their mules, with a batch of the drug sewn into her abdomen.
En route, however, the drug leaks into her bloodstream, enormously boosting her brainpower and turning her from luckless dupe into superhuman ass-kicker. As Lucy’s powers increase, Besson really lets loose. There are shoot-outs, of course, and a blistering car chase through Paris, interspersed with dollops of cod science from Morgan Freeman’s exposition-spouting evolutionary biologist to give us a handle of sorts on what is going on.
It gets even weirder before the end, whizzing towards the outer reaches of metaphysics in a manner that recalls Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (one of Besson’s touchstones for the film, apparently). Not everyone will want to hang on for the ride, but Johansson radiates transcendental cool, the action scenes zing and the images really fizz.
Certificate 15. Runtime 89 mins. Director Luc Besson.