Lucy_(2014_film)_poster

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson

France 2014

Runtime: 89 mins

Scarlett Johansson develops superpowers in a movie that’s as enjoyable as it’s preposterous

Lucy is a big dumb action flick that features the world’s biggest female star right now. Ironically, though, the plot revolves around an intellectual conceit, the idea that people only use ten per cent of their brain’s capacity. As any psychologist can tell you this is baloney, but as long as you don’t mind overlooking such nonsense then Lucy is a lot of fun.

The story begins at a Taipei hotel where the title character finds herself coerced by a dodgy boyfriend into delivering a package to some terrifying Korean gangsters. At gunpoint Lucy ends up having some sort of packages inserted into her stomach, one of which bursts following an assault by a guard. The chemicals released into her bloodstream lead to some dramatic changes whereby Lucy begins to utilise previously dormant cerebral capacity. Fortuitously, these changes turn Lucy into a kick-ass warrior, enabling her to escape her captors.

Meanwhile, in the world of academia one Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) is giving a presentation on the next steps in human evolution which, he tells us, will hinge upon accessing the brain’s hitherto untapped capabilities. Once again, scientists in the cinema audience will be holding their heads in their hands as the Professor’s powerpoint slides depict the entirely fallacious “Great Chain of Being” – the idea of an evolutionary progression from beings crawling on the ground to humans standing upright (contrary to the idea of linear progression we did not, for example, evolve from the Great Apes; rather we share a common ancestor with them).

Professor Norman speculates on what human abilities will be untapped if and when we are able to use twenty per cent of the brain’s capacity. Elsewhere, Lucy is already going beyond this figure. She is heading towards using one hundred per cent of her brain’s capacity, but the downside is that her body will not be able to survive beyond twenty-four hours. Whilst fending off the bad guys who are hunting her down Lucy needs to contact the Professor and find a way to transfer her newly-acquired knowledge for the benefit of humankind.

In essence, Lucy is The Matrix meets Lawnmower Man via 2001: A Space Odyssey. Scarlett Johansson’s is, as ever, a magnetically watchable presence. Her performance here as the otherworldly Lucy, who has abilities no-one else can even fathom, is not a million miles from the alien she plays in Under The Skin. Happily, the potential for the film to be overwhelmingly portentous is offset by some moments of fine humour. In one such moment Lucy is driving a car at breakneck speed through oncoming traffic. In the passenger seat a terrified police officer, Pierre Del Rio (Amr Waked), cries out “You’ll get us killed!” Channeling her brain’s expanded wisdom, Lucy says in a throwaway manner: “We never really die”.

Lucy is a straightforward summer action movie. Don’t expect too much. Leave your brain at the door, sit back, and enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

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