From “La Femme Nikita” to “Leon: The Professional” to “The Fifth Element,” writer-director Luc Besson has created some of the most memorable female action heroes in recent cinema. Now he’s teamed with sexy diva Scarlett Johansson (who was devilishly scary in last year’s “Under the Skin”) to create another tough female protagonist, one who uses brain power to take on the bad guys and wreak havoc on the men who have done her wrong. Johansson stars as Lucy, a party girl living in Taipei, Taiwan, who is kidnapped by a South Korean drug cartel and forced to smuggle a dangerous drug in her abdomen; the experimental drug leaks into her body and alters her DNA so that she begins using more than the normal 10% of her brainpower. As she progresses to use more and more of her brain, she develops enhanced physical and mental powers, including the ability to control electromagnetic communication; she becomes telepathic and develops telekinetic power; soon she reaches the 100% mark, and evolves into a super-brilliant, otherworldly creature that merges with the universe. And Along the way she — naturally — gets even with the bad guys. Besson — who wrote the screenplay — directs with wit, humor and intelligence; he intersperses Lucy’s travails with lectures by a noted brain scientist, played by Morgan Freeman, juxtaposing science fiction with science fact. Johansson’s performance moves from soft and gentle to hard and murderous with ease; she’s a pleasure to watch. “Lucy” is an entertaining and fun ride with fabulous visuals and special effects. There are some corny parts — Besson plays around with animal images and the comparison of Johansson’s Lucy with the oldest human in the fossil record, also named “Lucy” — but heck, all’s fair in love and filmmaking, especially if it works. And it does.Vitals: Director: Luc Besson. Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-Sik, Amr Waked. 2014, CC, MPAA rating: R, 90 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $125.480 million, Universal. Extras: “Cerebral Capacity – The True Science of Lucy” featurette. Blu-ray adds “The Evolution of Lucy” featurette.
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