breaking news

FOLLOW LIVE: Texas football hosts Orange-White Spring Game

‘Lucy’ uses 100 percent of her brain, only some of yours


It is tough to watch writer/director Luc Besson’s careening, entertaining and deeply silly “Lucy” and not think, “Man alive, this guy has read a whole lot of comic books. Like, maybe he has read all of the comic books, ever.”

Jammed with far-out-dude gobbledygook about brain capacity and violent Asian mobsters, “Lucy” is easily the summer’s most gaga super-powered caper. Its combination of trippy, quasi-profound theorizing and trippy, quasi-profound action will thrill serious comic book fans, the sort of geeks who own shelves full of work by brainy writers such as Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis or Japanese manga such as “Akira.”

It would surprise nobody if said fans light up the Internet in the coming weeks discussing all sorts of tropes, rhythms and psychic blasts Besson probably saw somewhere else first. Oddly, this is not a knock. Kinetic and kooky, “Lucy” is far more refreshing than any of this summer’s other CGI blow-’em-ups.

One morning in Taipei, a hung-over American student expat named Lucy (Scarlett Johansson and yes, the character is very obviously named after the “first woman”) is trying to rid herself of a sleazy boyfriend. Suddenly, the guy locks a briefcase on her arm and pushes her into delivering it to a bunch of extremely scary guys in black suits. Uh-oh.

Terrified, Lucy becomes a reluctant drug mule for a mobster named Jang (Korean superstar Min-sik Choi of “Oldboy” fame) and gets a bag of blue crystals sewn into her abdomen. Things don’t go so well on the other end of the drug buy and, one very comic-booky origin story later, our heroine finds herself using much more of her brain than the rest of us do.

Conveniently, there’s an American scientist in Paris (Morgan Freeman, often in extreme closeup) lecturing about the very thing Lucy is experiencing, about how humanity is full of untapped mental potential and how the more we unlock, the more hypothetically limitless our powers become. Naturally, these two need to talk. But Lucy — decreasing in emotion and increasing in mental sensitivity, reflex time and psychic powers — first has some revenge to unleash. The more of her brain Lucy uses (the movie helpfully tracks her percentage for us) the more godlike she gets and the more cars and people she’s able to flip around Paris.

Of course, the funny thing about hearing ScarJo say “I feel everything” is that “Lucy,” like her most recent roles (“Her,” “Under the Skin,” any of the “Avengers”-related movies), emphasize her natural blankness. Other than maybe her outstanding turn in “Ghost World” — in which she explicated teenage disdain like few before her — expressing emotion has never been her strong suit, and these post-human roles have fit her nicely.

“Lucy” is definitely of a piece with Besson’s other movies, mostly in the totally-awesome-heroine department (see also “La Femme Nikita,” “The Fifth Element” and “The Messenger” about Joan of Arc). But it has acres more philosophical justification for its goofy premise than the earlier flicks, even the one about God talking to a French girl.

Fortunately, Besson’s famously music-video-ish visual style — full of interstitial bits of cells dividing, animals mating and the all-but-inevitable mind-expanding-into-the-cosmos bit — makes the brain-hooey move with a welcome mania.

And good for him for presenting it without a stitch of camp, which is the key to getting the audience to buy into it, yet another trick Besson probably picked up from comic books. Of course “Lucy” can’t quite hang together, but while it’s in front of you, it will effortlessly expand your brain’s fun-lobe.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360

Setting the highest standards for the Art Dinner at Laguna Gloria
Setting the highest standards for the Art Dinner at Laguna Gloria

Etherial location. Elegant crowd. Exquisite cuisine. Excellent art. Scene from the Art Dinner at Laguna Gloria. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman For the past five years, the  Art Dinner at  Laguna Gloria has benefitted the  Contemporary Austin. Hosts expertly employ the arboreal setting...
Grand music, and big bubbles, drift on the air as Old Settler’s welcomes new digs
Grand music, and big bubbles, drift on the air as Old Settler’s welcomes new digs

The first big day of Old Settler’s Music Festival at its new site near Lockhart promised lots of good music from the likes of Calexico, Billy Strings, Jamestown Revival, Donna the Buffalo and many more. Under a welcome layer of clouds with mid-60s temperatures and a cool breeze, it delivered all that. Plus, bubbles. Kids...
I have come here to praise cassettes, not bury them.
I have come here to praise cassettes, not bury them.

It’s Record Store Day, and that means a rush on local haunts such as Waterloo Records and End of an Ear. Hundreds of collectibles were issued specifically for this annual event designed to help keep brick-and-mortar shops afloat in the streaming age. The resurgence of vinyl means most special RSD releases are in that...
Austin360Cooks: A reader tip on getting a discount on Sur La Table’s cooking classes
Austin360Cooks: A reader tip on getting a discount on Sur La Table’s cooking classes

The owner of Teddy V. Pâtisserie, who sells chocolate chip cookies at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller on Sundays, is a huge fan of the cooking classes at Sur La Table at the Domain Northside. The cooking classes at Sur La Table cover a range of subjects, including lamb. Contributed by @teddyvblog She recently...
Kraft Heinz embraces Momofuku Sauce in bid for foodie cachet

Kraft Heinz Co., struggling with sliding sales and a falling stock price, is partnering with celebrity chef David Chang to generate some buzz. The ketchup maker will use its expertise in food production and distribution to help Chang take his Momofuku Ssam sauce national for the first time. The condiment, which has been served across the chef's restaurant...
More Stories