dir-scr Luc Besson
prd Virginie Silla
with Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbaek, Analeigh Tipton, Nicolas Phongpheth, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Luca Angeletti, Frederic Chau, Claire Tran
release US 25.Jul.14, Fr 6.Aug.14,
UK 22.Aug.14
14/France Europa 1h29
Let me drive: Johansson and Waked

freeman choi rhind-tutt
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Lucy Besson is on his usual nutty form for this wildly improbable thriller, which wants desperately to be a brain-bending action romp like Inception. But it's nowhere near as smart as that: it's actually rather silly science-fiction that's livened up by Besson's bonkers obsession with fit women and slickly staged violence.

Lucy (Johansson) is an American student in Taipei whose loser boyfriend (Asbaek) convinces her to make a delivery to crime boss Jang (Choi). But he forces Lucy to be a drug mule, with a kilo of experimental drugs implanted in her abdomen. When it ruptures, she's suddenly able to access much more than the normal 10 percent of her brain. Only at 20% she develops the ability to control people and objects around her. She then tracks down mental capacity expert Norman (Freeman) in Paris, pursued by Jang and his vast army of goons.

It's refreshing how Johansson continues to avoid the usual Hollywood career track, opting instead for offbeat European films (see Under the Skin) and inventive American gems (like Her and Don Jon) while landing the best female role in the Marvel universe. As Lucy, named for the first female, Johansson only rarely cracks a smile to let us know she's not taking this seriously. She dives into scenes with an internal focus so strong that she sometimes looks robotic, pondering her own brain before taking on another wave of thugs.

And since this is another crazed Luc Besson movie, the surrounding characters have their own issues. Choi is hilariously annoyed as the villain, while Waked provides a solid counterpoint as a frazzled Paris detective pulled into the mayhem. Besson keeps everyone moving, offering a handy on-screen percentage so we know how much of her brain Lucy is now in touch with. And as reality bends around her, we can do little but hang on for the wild ride.

Thankfully, Besson keeps us laughing with hilarious asides, random gags and unrelated details. He also pushes everything into his familiar territory of brilliantly insane car chases and massive John Woo-style slow-mo gun battles. It's madly visual, never quite suspenseful but still thrilling as it plays loosely with ideas about existence and time, pushing Lucy into a level of intelligence beyond the limits of numbers and letters. It's not that clever, but it's almost painfully cool.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 11.Aug.14

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