Lucy (2014) Directed by Luc Besson. With Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Choi Min-shik.
Written and directed by Luc Besson, Lucy is a mind-bending science-fiction action film starring Scarlett Johansson as a woman who is unwittingly exposed to a drug (CPh4) which gives her access to untapped brain power. It is commonly known that humans use just 10% of our potential brain capacity – Besson has a great deal of fun showcasing what might happen if the other 90% were to be unlocked.
Amid the draw of the high concept, Besson opts to set his film up against the backdrop of underground crime as the mysterious Mr. Jang (Choi Min-shik) is introduced as a (kind of) Korean version of Gary Oldman’s character in Leon. From there, the film fires its boosters, throwing itself headlong into its own mayhem, adding the credibility of Morgan Freeman in the role of a neurological researcher to help validate the exposition.
Of course, after her experience playing Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Johansson is on home turf in this kind of role – a role which requires her to look in complete control, while offing bad guys without so much as a bat of her pretty eyelashes. It is a testament to her that she can make it all look so effortlessly convincing.
With 1994’s Leon as a shining example, Luc Besson has previously demonstrated more than an adeptness for delivering thrilling action, and he briefly recaptures some of that magic here, albeit without the crucial emotional gravity of his signature film.
With all of its wacky ideas in tow, Lucy is one of those films that you are better off going along with. The action is well staged (one car chase through Paris looks particularly impressive) and everyone involved commits themselves. It does go utterly bonkers, at times, but if your’e along for the ride, you’ll probably enjoy the madness.