Berserk! I loved it! Lucy is the third action movie this summer that’s crackled with pop, rhythm and actual ideas (“Edge of Tomorrow,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” prior). Some are going to say it’s still too stupid, and well, a few early minutes are disreputable B-movie pulp. It also has quite a few brilliant perceptions about the human brain, as orated by Morgan Freeman who plays the world’s best neuropsychologist. This is Scarlett Johannson’s star vehicle and the role lets her go into flawless action heroine mode. She’s a floozy forced to drug mule for a Korean gangster (Choi Min-Sik). While it is said most humans can only access 10% of their brain, her unknown drug turns out to enable neuron connections that boosts her to 20, 30, 40 percent brain power and higher. Telekinesis is just the beginning of her abilities, and as the she further absorbs the drug, she summons the powers of a God!
Nobody is a match for her in this film. That hardly curtails the excitement, and the absence of tension to me became irrelevant. Writer-director (and sometimes schlockmeister) Luc Besson loves going over-the-top. His wackiest film to date was 1997’s “The Fifth Element” with Bruce Willis as a cabbie who becomes an intergalactic hero. What I noticed straight off is that Besson commissioned footage from two Ron Fricke documentaries, “Baraka” (1994) and “Samsara” (2012) that display awesome contemporary human feats and threw them into a blender. The sensational head-rush is like Malick’s “The Tree of Life” on acid, interweaved with some Wachowski Brothers’ “Matrix” style kinetics thrown in every five minutes.
The more brain power Lucy surges, the more demented the film’s ideas become. I do happen to think it isn’t all that crazy to believe we couldn’t change molecules within ourselves to alter our appearance if we had unlimited brain power. Lucy can do it within a matter of seconds, which of course, is preposterous. The other idea I like is that you can summon up physical sensations from birth or early childhood and feel them in the now. Besson has made a delirious entertainment that gets us half believing in some of its hypotheses, as long as you’re open to it. It helps that Freeman is such a composed and lucid speaker who has us listening soundly to the science.
Freeman does have the better, more educated dialogue as the Professor. I could have listened to him in a straight drama about the subject of brain neurons, or perhaps a 3-hour lecture. Johansson is on the move the whole time, doing what’s needed for the sake of plot – also by gratuitously keeping Gangster Jang alive instead of finishing him off earlier forcing her to dodge his henchmen! She says genius-type things, but in small doses of terse dialogue. Almost as if she were intentionally keeping it simple for everybody else, or susceptible to international market moviegoers. She wouldn’t want to go over anybody’s head with genius-talk. Also she doesn’t have a lot of time. There’s a countdown clock before — why not? — her head explodes. How can one doubt though she has the intelligence to prevent that from happening!
“Lucy” is a brief 89-minute adrenaline rush with only a few wasted moments. If the lack of tension bothers some people, then I say, it has uncertainty going for it as to Lucy’s final destination. Visual grandiosity and philosophical outrageousness is its truest strength. Some will say a lunatic made this movie, and I’d say if that’s true, it’s a virtue.
89 Minutes. Rated R.
SCI-FI / RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK THRILLER / FRIDAY NIGHT MIND-BENDER