Luc Besson is the filmmaker who directed such titles as La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element, in addition to co-writing the Transporter and Taken series; suffice it to say, when he teams up with a celebrity like Scarlett Johansson on a new action/thriller, people are bound to take notice. That’s very much been the case with the upcoming Lucy, where Johansson plays a woman who goes from helpless drug mule to super-powered warrior in the blink of an eye – when she inadvertently absorbs a mysterious narcotic – as the new international trailer illustrates (see above).
One complaint raised about Lucy so far – and, to be fair, it’s a reasonable one – is that the film reads on paper as being derivative of recent sci-fi/action movies, including Limitless, Hanna, and even the X-Men franchise (see: Johansson starts to develop mutant-esque super-abilities in the movie). At the same time, however, the combination of Besson’s fine-turned directorial techniques – sharp visuals, vibrant editing – with his trademark cheeky storytelling approach, seems as though it may be enough to elevate the recycled material.
The other major issue consistently brought up about Lucy thus far concerns how the sci-fi aspect of Besson’s script is based on old (read: outdated) claims about ordinary humans using only 10% of their brain – though, unlike the U.S. trailer, the international preview for Lucy better clarifies that the idea in the film is that people use 10% of their brain’s potential capacity. Regardless, what actually matters is whether or not Besson’s script offers consistent world-building – be it based on accurate or inaccurate real-world science – and, in that sense, the narrative seems fine, thus far.
Besson, as it were, is a filmmaker whose interests tend to lie more in the realm of socio-political commentary, which he’s long explored through the lens of B-grade action/thriller fare; that is to say, the fictional science of Lucy is probably just a means to that end, more than anything. That thoughtful subtext sometimes gets lost in the fray on pulpy action movies that were only co-written and/or produced by Besson (see: this year’s 3 Days to Kill and Brick Mansions), but his actual directorial efforts tend to manage that juggling act better – which bodes well for Lucy, of course.
With Johansson having settled comfortably into the action hero niche thanks to her continuing role as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Lucy stands to very much benefit from having her lead the way. The film will face off against the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot and the natural disaster thriller Into the Storm, when it opens in theaters this summer; with Johansson headlining, though, it’s a fair bet that Besson’s latest ought to still be able to attract a sizable audience.
Lucy opens in U.S. theaters on August 8th, 2014.