Nothing in Lucy feels particularly new. It doesn’t require a great deal of brain capacity to spot the references – 2001, Limitless, The Matrix, Inception.
But Luc Besson, with a captivating Scarlett Johansson in harness, presents his nonsense with such elan and conviction that the old stuff steps out on to the Parisienne streets with a new coat of spangly flair.
First off, forget the pretence of scientific credibility with which this hokum is underpinned. The story starts with the myth that humans only use 10% of their brain and ponders what would happen if that figure increased like a fundraising thermometer.
Morgan Freeman is Prof Norman who is handily giving a lecture on the subject. “What happens at 100%?” he’s asked. “We’re reaching into the realms of science-fiction,” says the prof. “We just don’t know.”
But Besson knows and he’s about to splat his vision across the screen like a bloated BLT hitting the windscreen at the speed of light.
Our guide is Lucy. “The first woman was called Lucy,” she learns. But we know that already for we met the hairy proto-female at the water’s edge. (The director raids the full span of evolution for his precocious cut-aways.)
Lucy is in Taiwan and, by means of a treachery and Julian Rhind-Tutt, has a pouch of wonderdrug CPH4 sewn into her belly. But it bursts. So springs forth Lucy’s transformation from snivelling mule to Lara Croft PhD.
Johansson is brilliant at this. She struggles to stay human but omnipotence expels her soul like a belligerent cuckoo.
She still has to reclaim the drugs and flee the vengeful drug lord (Choi Min-sik), and contend with mum, mortality and mitosis while negotiating a French rush-hour.
Besson loves his idea and goes all out to share his passion. The rambunctious, ridiculous final reel is a visual treat that lends the viewer, briefly, the notion there’s more to this film’s philosophy than meets the eye.
There isn’t, but it’s a superbly enjoyable romp nevertheless.