Luc Besson’s thriller is Taken meets The Matrix – a frantically enjoyable whirl of action and sci-fi silliness. Scarlett Johansson’s traveller Lucy falls foul of Chinese drug smugglers, lead by Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik, who recruit her as a mule when her boyfriend leaves her in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She’s soon drugged and cut open, her abdomen stuffed with a pouch of mysterious synthetic drug CPH4. “The kids will be going crazy for it!” jokes the gangster’s English assistant. We’re later told it’s naturally occurring in a pregnant woman’s body during the early stages of pregnancy and holds the key to brain development. After a set to with some baddies holding her hostage Lucy emerges victorious. Why? The pouch has burst inside her releasing the blue crystals of CPH4 into her blood stream pushing her brain into overdrive as she experiences, “no pain. No fear. No desire.”
Playing on the urban myth that we use less than 10% of our brain capacity, Besson has a lot of fun with the speculative hypothesis put forward by Morgan Freeman’s boffin that if we could exceed the brain capacity of dolphins at 20% we’d be capable of superhuman feats. “Now I have access to the furthest reaches of my brain I know that what makes us us, is primitive,” reveals a spaced out Lucy tripping on her newfound brain-power while bashing away on two laptops and cracking the secrets of existence.
Freeman’s Nobel prize-winning professor is the only one Lucy can communicate with as she learns there are “more connections in the human body than there are stars in the galaxy” and soon masters them with devastatingly telekinetic ass kickings the result. Able to predict the future she’s got a lot in common with Bradley Cooper’s character in Limitless.
Johansson honed her action skills as Black Widow in Marvel’s Avengers films, but there’s more to Besson’s most fun film since The Fifth Element than just violence. Riffing on the evolutionary awe of 2001: A Space Odyssey it makes you think for a minute… What if we could use more than 20% of our brain? With the lofty proclamation that “time gives proof to the existence of matter” followed by another kinetic rush Besson’s film flits between evolutionary hokum and brutal action in a heartbeat.