Lucy instantly hooks you. Scarlett Johansson plays a young woman who is kidnapped and used as a mule to move a drug based on a substance that helps babies grow bones. An assault by a captor causes the drug that was placed in a bag in her abdomen to rupture.
It causes her brain to start working at a very high level and turns her into a superwoman.
While still human, but quickly evolving into something more than human, Lucy contacts the world's foremost expert on the brain. He's done by Morgan Freeman. Much like he does with his excellent science TV series Through the Wormhole, Freeman narrates -- rather than acts -- and fills the movie with brain and body facts.
Some are true. Others are conjecture. All are fascinating.
Johansson has done some excellent work in sci-fi lately (Her and Under the Skin) and this is no exception. She is sensational first as the terrified Lucy who then evolves into the confused Lucy and then to an almost God-like being. Johansson is perfect in all three personas.
Writer/director Luc Besson loosely wraps this thriller around human use of the brain and what percentage of it that we do or do not use and what happens if we use more than some scientists say we can.
Besson doesn't direct many movies. He writes a few -- like The Transporter and Taken -- and does a lot of producing. Directing is a chore he rarely takes on. When Besson does, the results are usually pretty good. Two of my favorites are The Professional that made Jean Reno and Natile Portman stars and the French version of La Femme Nikita from the 1990s.
This one also fits in the pretty good category. Besson brilliantly resists the temptation to overuse special effects. So the few he uses are most excellent. And Besson starts his movie fast and quickly gets to the point and then to the climax.
In establishing his most creative plot, Besson bounces between shots of animals preying on others, a mouse maybe falling for a mouse trap and other wonderfully shot nature scenes and scenes of his characters slowly falling into a trap of their own.
This is superb sci-fi but like many great sci-fi premises, Lucy -- unfortunately -- is a brainy thriller with nowhere original to go.
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated R for mature themes and violence. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.