Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy in Luc Besson's new movie "Lucy," a sort of back-door superhero origin story by way of "The Matrix" and various psychotropic substances. Released by Universal, "Lucy" is one of the dumbest movies of the summer, but also one of the shortest. Fans of Johansson's patented flat affect -- put to better use in "Under the Skin" and "Marvel's The Avengers" -- will enjoy "Lucy," as too will the kid from your college dorm who ate too many mushrooms that one night. Ahead, the best parts of "Lucy," the greatest movie never rented at Blockbuster video in 1994.
It's Only 90 Minutes
As mentioned, "Lucy" is really brief. There are 89 minutes in all, and some of those are credits! In that way, it's a comforting balm for the lengthy blockbusters of the season. And while Besson never allows his movie to possess any energy, it at least doesn't really drag. Nothing much happens in "Lucy" -- the plot on a pinhead: Scarlett Johansson gets roped into being a drug mule for a crime boss in Taipei, and after ingesting her parcel becomes a near deity -- but since it's shorter than some commutes, who cares?
Scarlett Johansson Sees A Dinosaur At One Point
This is probably a spoiler, but in a movie as confusing and downright weird as "Lucy," spoilers are relative. The results of Lucy consuming those evil drugs is the capacity to use more than 10 percent of her brain. (That humans use just 10 percent of our brain is a myth that has been debunked before.) Toward the end of the film, as Lucy edges toward 100-percent usage, she is able to control time and space. She uses that newfound party trick to first travel from Paris to New York's Times Square in the present day, and then head back to the same spot during the Jurassic era. A CGI dinosaur greets Lucy there. It's hilarious, as if Terrence Malick saw "Vanilla Sky" and thought it needed more carnivores.
There Are Lots Of References To Other, Better Movies
Malick's "The Tree of Life," "The Matrix," "Under the Skin," "The Professional," "The Fifth Element," "Run, Lola, Run," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Taken": these are but some of the movies that "Lucy" references in one form or another. Thanks to the presence of Morgan Freeman and the fact that so much of "Lucy" is about a person becoming a computer, this year's "Transcendence" is also never far from thought, though that comparison is probably more coincidental than intentional. ("Lucy" >>>> "Transcendence," for what it's worth.)
It's Really, Really Dumb
Make no mistake, "Lucy" is dumb. At least in plot and dialogue and even performance (Analeigh Tipton shows up for a silly cameo that literally feels cut in from another movie). Why "Lucy" works, when it works at all, is because Besson is a visual artist who makes all this stupidity look so darn pretty and Johansson is game for anything. "Lucy" isn't the worst movie of the year, the summer or even the month of July. It will make a lot of money and be forgotten almost instantly. "Lucy" exists, which is both a complement to its crazy and a dismissal of its rote machinations.