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Susan Granger's review of 'Lucy'

Updated 11:15 am, Friday, August 1, 2014
  • This image released by Universal Pictures shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Lucy," which our film critic, Susan Granger, reviews.
(AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Jessica Forde) Photo: Jessica Forde, Associated Press / Associated Press
    This image released by Universal Pictures shows Scarlett Johansson in a scene from "Lucy," which our film critic, Susan Granger, reviews. (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Jessica Forde) Photo: Jessica Forde, Associated Press

 

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Starting with the provocative premise -- that human beings use only 10 percent of their brain capacity -- this is strictly science fiction.

Filmmaker Luc Besson knew that this percentage figure was inaccurate, yet plunged ahead with his inventive adventure, revolving around a naive young American named Lucy (Scarlett Johansson), who gets tricked into delivering a mysterious metal briefcase to a Taiwanese crime boss, Mr. Jang (South Korean actor Choi Min Sik), and forced to become one of his drug mules. When she's repeatedly kicked in the gut, there's leakage from the bag of blue crystals, a narcotic known as CPH4, that's been surgically inserted in her abdomen, and a metamorphosis occurs: Lucy becomes superhuman.

Determined not only to wreak primal revenge on her captors but also to acquire

more and more knowledge, employing her increasing array of powers and skills -- she contacts Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), a neuroscientist who is lecturing about cerebral capacity at a university in Paris.

Cleverly using computer-generated imagery, while suspending all sensible logic throuh fragmented, episodic story telling, French writer/director Besson ("La Femme Nikita," "Leon: The Professional," "Taken," "The Transporter") has created a fast-paced, blood-splattered, eerie escapade, shot on a mere $40 million budget. Obviously inspired by Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and Neo in "The Matrix" franchise, Besson even takes the name Lucy from the fossilized skeleton of man's earliest ancestor, Australopitchecus afarensis, which was discovered in 1974.

In addition to playing butt-kicking Black Widow in Marvel's "Avenger" movies, Johansson vocalized the seductive computer in Spike Jonze's "Her" and embodied the elusive, enigmatic, enticing alien in Jonathan Glazer's surreal "Under the Skin." So, as cleverly awesome Lucy, she can believably handle telekinesis, intercepting electro-magnetic signals and communicating via satellites. Look for Johansson to emerge as Angelina Jolie's successor as the pre-eminent female action star.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Lucy" is a weird yet strangely intriguing 7, posing fascinating philosophical questions like: Does time truly exist? Why are we really here? And is our essence immortal?