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Sci-fi Scarlett turns super-warrior

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Lucy (15)
Running time 89 minutes
SOME moneymen in the movie industry will tell you, if pressed, that the best film products are the ones that are full of comforting reminders of things audiences have seen before, but with subtle twists and changes that keep them slightly on edge.
Lucy, by the master filmmaker Luc Besson, fits the bill exactly. It is a sci-fi/thriller/shoot’em-up creation of just 89 minutes that does all of the above – and does it well.
Some critics in America, where it opened several weeks ago, have praised it but faintly, largely because of its echoes of movies past. Nevertheless, it is a worthy addition to the long list of modest movies that carve themselves a niche in their audiences’ memory.
Lucy, the main character (Scarlett Johansson), is an American girl skating on the edge of disaster in an unnamed Asian city, taking drugs, mixing with lowlife men and generally having a ‘good’ time.
She is tricked into delivering a briefcase to a Mr Jang, who turns out to be a bigtime drug dealer who wants her to take the contents of the briefcase (a new designer drug) to America – but in a horrifying way less likely to be detected.
The plan goes awry. As a result of a severe beating the drug’s ‘mule’ is transformed into something even more terrifying.
If this was a superhero movie, the transformation might well end up being weird and silly, but in Lucy’s case the change has just enough scientific ‘plausibility’ by being subtle and modest.
She takes revenge on her captors and sets off to seek out three others like her who are taking supplies of the drug to Europe.
She teams up with learned Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), who has been researching the possibility of how to unlock human potential, and bewildered Paris cop Pierre (Amr Waked) and between them they face up to the evil drug cartel and begin to understand just how far the transformation of Lucy can go.
There are distinct echoes of Matrix (flowing energy streams in everything you see), Lawnmower Man (brain power enhanced artificially) and 2001 (origins of Man, or Woman, bearing in mind the name Lucy).
However Besson, who not only directed the movie, but wrote it, has not created a rip-off, but a new melding of these disparate parts that is pleasingly simple but at the same time thought- provoking.
While there is a fair bit of violence – as you would expect in any drug-related story – it is not gratuitous and the sense of menace at the start of the movie is perfectly portrayed by Johansson, who portrays the transformation well.
This is a clever movie that touches on key human response points – vulnerability, the desire for immortality, the need to control our own future being just a few.
Well worth a look.

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