Movie review: ‘Lucy’ is convoluted sci-fi that’s not crazy enough

First Published      Last Updated Aug 04 2014 03:39 pm

Those expecting a straight-ahead action movie in Luc Besson's "Lucy" may find this sci-fi head-scratcher a little crazy — but I don't think it's crazy enough.

Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy, an American student in Taiwan who becomes an unwilling drug mule for a nasty Asian crime boss, Mr. Jang (played by the Korean star Choi Min-Sik). A pouch of a mysterious drug is surgically implanted in her belly, but when the parcel bursts into her bloodstream, the drug takes effect, opening up her mental capacity to unworldly levels. Seeking help from a professor (Morgan Freeman, in plot exposition mode), Lucy figures out how to harness her powers and go after Jang's gang.

Besson employs his usual action tricks, but doesn't give Johansson many opportunities to kick butt, Black Widow-style. He also loads up with visual oddities of the cosmos and human prehistory, like an amped-up recut of Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life."

It's all wild and nonsensical, and with Johansson quite appealing. Ultimately, though, it feels as though Besson is playing it safe when he could have gone full-tilt toward something insanely original.

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Opens Friday, July 25, at theaters everywhere; rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality; 90 minutes.