Both Luc Besson and his Lucy have some ’splainin’ to do. Besson’s first-ever head film does more than Timothy Leary ever could to make massive drug ingestion seem like a good life plan, and the visuals could hardly have been more spectacular — indeed, this may already be a cult film. Sadly, the bad science pinned to the premise turns a shoe-gazer epic into a clunky unintended comedy. Much depends here on the persistent though thoroughly debunked urban myth that human beings only use one-tenth of their inner cranial capacities. But that canard becomes trivial as the movie progresses, when Lucy, played with perfect straight-faced aplomb by Scarlett Johansson, begins controlling reality, as well as cell phones, television, and space travel, all the while furnishing “explanations” that would make a comic-book writer blush. It’s campy, but Besson’s bombastic tone doesn’t seem intentionally tongue-in-cheek.
The premise is equally silly: Johansson’s Lucy is a ditzy party girl who gets snagged up by evil Japanese thugs that sew a new powerful drug into her abdomen as part of a cartoony plot to dominate the world and sell a new kind of dope. When the bag breaks inside her tummy, Lucy goes through some changes, learning to fall up and decode foreign languages and fight expertly. Other people might just hemorrhage and die. The rest of the film dedicates itself to trippy interventions by Lucy, whose mental capacity keeps inflating her from hottie physical being to pure astral matter. In some ways, this could be the prequel to Her.
Besides Johansson, Besson employs a barrage of cool visual devices to blow minds and delight the blazed members of his audience. Little mindblower visual cuts bring us back to dinosaurs and over to lions and gazelles and, of course, out into space. It’s 2001 with a shootout, and if it weren’t so constantly tripping itself up on the principles of basic scientific knowledge, it would be the wettest dream a techie ever had.