After a decade when the only person to take her seriously was Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson seems to have found her groove of late, with the new actioner “Lucy” as further confirmation of her niche.
She’s been a poker-faced Russian comic book heroine in “The Avengers” universe, a murderously humorless alien in “Under the Skin” and a voice a guy could fall in love with in “Her.” And that’s the polished skill-set she brings to “Lucy,” a vulnerable college student whose poor choice in beaus gets her tangled up with a Korean/Taiwanese mob about to unleash an irresistible new drug on Europe.
Lucy resists the pleas of Richard (Pilou Asbaek) to deliver this briefcase, so he just handcuffs it to her and sends her in to meet her fate with Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi).
Jang’s bloody hands and the bodies he steps over to get to her make Lucy whimper in fear. And that’s before she realizes what his associate, “The Limey” (Julian Rhind-Tutt) has in store. They need to transport this potent new drug and she’s to be one of the couriers. They knock her out and sew it into her intestines.
But an unexpected beating makes the drug leak into her system, and that’s when Lucy starts to discover how “limitless” her potential truly is.
That “We only use 10 percent of our brain” stuff, basically recycled from the Bradley Cooper thriller “Limitless,” is delivered by Morgan Freeman in a lecture in Paris, while Lucy struggles to survive Taipei long enough to get on a plane to meet him.
French action auteur Luc Besson, who turned to producing with the “Transporter” and “Taken” movies, mounts a dazzling fast-motion car chase through Paris and scintillating Scar-Jo slo-mo faceoffs with legions of bad guys in this insanely ambitious popcorn popper.
Amr Waked plays a befuddled French cop caught up in her quest, and things turns deliriously silly and metaphysical as the film veers into Johnny Depp “Transcendence” omnipotence.
But Johansson never varies the confident, robotic monotone that Lucy adapts as she controls her mind, her body and then others, and finally gravity and physics itself. She doesn’t blink as she guns down or psycho-kinetically punches out or levitates the bad guys. It’s not a great performance, just a perfectly consistent one.