With films such as The Fifth Element (1997) and The Transporter (2002-2008) series under his belt, French director Luc Besson is known for making action thrillers that are visually rich and touch on human nature and the limits of our potential.
In Lucy, Besson’s latest sci-fi drama, he takes both action and pseudoscience to the extreme. The film is a combination of action, pop science, and metaphysical musings, and it’s probably Besson’s most entertaining project in years.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a 25-year-old American student living in Taipei who winds up becoming a drug mule for an evil South Korean drug lord. The gangster is in cahoots with a group of pharmaceutical scientists who have developed a synthetic version of a chemical naturally present in our bodies that boosts brain capacity. When our heroine’s drug haul (which has been sewn into her intestines) bursts, all of her brain’s unused power is suddenly unlocked.
So what does this new power allow her to do? Well, the film presents the idea that the human brain only uses 10 percent of its ability. So in Lucy’s case, when the remaining portion of her brain is unlocked, she can control the universe, past and present. It’s that simple, the film maintains.
However amusing that idea may sound, what’s more interesting than the power that comes with this new brain capacity is what such a phenomenon would mean for mankind.
Johansson definitely carries the weight of the film on her shoulders. After being anything but human in her recent works–an alien (Under the Skin), superhero (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and A.I. (Her); she gets to show what humans could be if we used more than 10 percent of our brains. Steering Lucy from a tearful victim to a calmly logical assassin questioning consciousness, Johansson owns every inch of this wild ride.
Of course, reactions to Lucy will vary greatly — clearly the film will not speak to a wide audience. But if you’re interested in bookish science fiction that often poses more questions than answers, you’ll be rewarded with this thought-provoking film.