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Cinema Signal: A bit thin on story but what Scarlett does with it is a thing to see. Green light. MOBILE version |
. "Lucy"

Scarlett Johansson rules! as Lucy, the lady with brain power. And, while writer-director Luc Besson, who has made a specialty of action heroines ("La Femme Nikita," "The Fifth Element"), makes her the only human to take a dose of the crystals that transform her into the only human with the ability to control her atoms and those of others. It was something she never asked for or dreamed of.

It was her pain of a boyfriend who just wanted one last favor. All he was asking her to do was deliver a locked aluminum attache' case to a Mr. Jang up on an upper floor of a swank building. Yeah, right. In a scene demonstrating just how good an actress Johannson ("Donjon") is, she turns a ridiculous setup into a smart piece of comic and character-revealing sketch. But he (the b.f.) wins and she (very nervously) delivers.

She winds up in a nest of Asian bad guys, led by murderous bossman Jang (Min-sik Choi), who turn her into a mule for his drug operation. He orders that one of the three plastic pouches of an untested blue crystal known as CPH4 be surgically implanted into her abdomen for smuggling purposes.

Not that Jang even knows if the substance he's got his dirty hands on is actually illegal -- it's new, after all. But he doesn't want the prying eyes of customs agents trying to figure out where the blue crystal stands on the narcotic table.

The plotline reveals itself when her plastic pouch tears and sends the crystals into her blood stream at the very time that the elegant and knowledgeable Professor Norman is theorizing to his mesmerized class of students and scientists about the disappointing fact that humans use only ten percent of their brains.

Whether this is true or not, director Besson chooses not to turn this into a war between his heroine and villains who take the substance and try to catch up with her evolution in a battle for supremacy. He keeps the battle between her and Jong as she ascends to 20%, 30% and beyond. Instead, it's her against the chemical and Jong and his thugs who treat her as convenient cargo.

As every ten percent rise in her brain power ticks off on screen, her abilities to control the physical world multiplies and she's progressively gaining abilites to avenge the wrongs perpetrated upon her, ofttimes in amusing ways. But, there's a downside.

With each step, Besson depicts the effects of CHP4's chemical brain enhancment in fun and fascinating ways, with intercutting to the professor's galvanizing theories about brain usage -- all of which is fantasy. Fascinating, supremely entertaining and a large dose of visual candy and wit, Johansson holds us in the comedy-fantasy all the way to a final action showdown. Well, perhaps not all of us, but that's how I experienced it. I think Lucy's a goddess.

Just as a side note, I applaud Angelina Jolie, who was first offered the part, for not taking it. Jolie might have been thought of primarily for the scientific and intellectual background of the concept, but I don't see her in the pre-drug, sketchier bits that make Scarlett Jo so attitudinally hot and wondrous in a sci-fi that was conceived and executed for the chuckles to be derived from a tantalizing pseudo-science.

We'll therefore ignore the fact that the usage of the ten percent of our brains theory is about as true as the colorful but non-existent contraband that gave rise to this bash.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

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