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Lucy

Posted: July 25, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.

Writer/director Luc Besson directs SCARLETT JOHANSSON in "Lucy", an action-thriller that examines the possibility of what one human could truly do if she unlocked 100 percent of her brain capacity and accessed the furthest reaches of her mind.

Luc Besson has made a movie based on the conceit that human beings only use 10 percent of their brains. There's nothing in Lucy to disprove the premise.

French writer-director Besson, who's responsible for La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element, is either unable to tap the cerebral capacity to make a movie about higher intelligence that is itself actually clever, or he assumes that viewers are too dim to process such a film.

Lucy

75 Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Pilou Asbaek, Analeigh Tipton

Director: Luc Besson

Rating: Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality

Running Time: 90 minutes

Neither possibility offers much for the audience's brains, unless images pilfered from The Matrix and 2001: A Space Odyssey have subliminal content only the title character can process.

At the start of the film, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) doesn't seem all that bright, but she appears to have more going on in her head than her Eurotrash boyfriend Richard (Pilou Asbaek, A Hijacking). He coerces her into delivering a locked briefcase to a tycoon known only as Mr. Jang (Korean actor Min-sik Choi, Oldboy). Just in case we can't figure out that Lucy is in deep trouble, Besson cuts back and forth between images of a mouse checking out a trap and a group of cheetahs stalking prey. Besson never explains why Lucy and Richard are in Taiwan or what besides alcohol has brought them together. Perhaps there wasn't any stock nature footage available to make that work.

Before she can run away from the hotel where she's supposed to drop off the case, she's forced to become a drug mule, along with three young men headed to Europe. Before she can get on her flight, some of the drug works its way into her bloodstream, and she's now capable of changing her appearance just with a thought. She can also subdue bad guys simply by willing them to sleep or making them float in midair.

Before Agent Smith can say, "Mr. Anderson," Lucy works her consciousness into computers and consults with a top American scientist (Morgan Freeman) to determine how to use her newfound consciousness and find out what it might mean for the rest of the world.

As can be expected from the mind that created the Taken and The Transporter movies, Besson finds plenty of excuses for gunplay and explosions. While Besson can deliver some jaw-dropping showdowns and standoffs, he's at his best when he doesn't live under the mistaken assumption he has something to say. Taken and La Femme Nikita worked because their quick paces didn't give viewers enough time to figure out the story lines were ludicrous.

Thankfully, Lucy actually moves quickly and even leaps across continents, but every now and then Freeman waxes philosophical or Johansson laments being less human. Neither musing is terribly profound nor entertaining.

Lucy borrows from Neil Burger's far more clever Limitless, where Bradley Cooper ingests a drug that awakens his dormant gray cells. (I should add that both films are based on a scientific myth.) Nonetheless, instead of finding excuses for trippy visuals, Burger actually bothered to examine how a person who became that smart might function or run into trouble.

It's a safe bet that someone with an amplified mind wouldn't just temporarily subdue a deadly foe and leave him to return for revenge.

MovieStyle on 07/25/2014

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