Besson, Johansson make smart choices in 'Lucy'

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"Lucy" (2014) 3 / 4 stars by Jeff Mitchell - “I have no idea,” Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) said.

Norman, a scientist who researches brain activity, responded with the aforementioned statement when asked, “What would happen if a human being used 100% of their brain capacity?”

Since the average human being uses 10% of their brain, well, we, the audience, do not know either.

That is the essential point of intrigue in writer/director Luc Besson’s exciting and wild sci-fi thriller, “Lucy”.

Clicking in at a 90-minute runtime, Besson does not waste any time and transports the title character (Scarlett Johansson) on a crazy journey.

Lucy - a free-spirited American taking classes in Taiwan - unintentionally tangles herself in a drug deal with some really dangerous dudes.

The end result is the dealers expose Lucy to an experimental drug (synthetic CPH4), but this purple powder grants her access to the nether regions of her brain.

In the process, Lucy gains superpowers and a new singular focus: To acquire even more access.

One hundred percent use of her brain capacity is her goal, and if she can enact some revenge in the process, so be it.

Besson makes several smart choices to bring an exciting action picture to the screen by continuously offering the element of surprise.

With Lucy firing her synapsis into uncharted territory, Besson also bathes in the unconventional by mixing several film genres for the unsuspecting moviegoer.

I don’t want to get into too many details, but let’s just say, there is plenty of gunplay, hair-raising car chases and random shots from the animal kingdom.

The animal kingdom?

Besson’s film is a feast for the eyes, but also for the ears.

For instance, early in the film, all of the drug dealers - led by Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi) - speak Korean.

Lucy does not speak the language, so their foreign language threats in an isolated hotel suite seem all the more worse.

Besson does not provide subtitles to the audience, so we are as "deaf" as Lucy.

It is an effective technique and helps us buy-in to her dilemma.

Much like humans using only 10% of our brains, I am only scratching the surface with Besson’s ideas here.

Choi’s, Freeman’s and Amr Waked’s characters also bring their ideas (and actions) to the table in the form of mayhem, thoughtfulness and protection, respectively.

They fill effective supporting roles, but Johansson is the film’s lead luminary.

Johansson gives a convincing performance, as Lucy becomes less and less “human” and more and more powerful over the course of the picture.

Lucy might provide some miracles, but the movie “Lucy” will not exactly grant miracles or Oscar wins.

Just expect the unexpected.

Isn’t that why we go to the movies?

Image credits: Universal Pictures

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