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‘Lucy’ shows off Scarlet Johansson’s screen skills

In 1994, at the tender age of 10, Scarlett Johansson appeared in a movie entitled “If Lucy Fell.” She played the tiny role of Emily. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere. Twenty years later, she is Lucy – a different Lucy. I’m so glad she stuck with acting. This 2014 movie puts her in the title role. “Lucy” is a tantalizing sci-fi mystery that is all the more interesting because Johansson is its star. She is a terrific actress that instinctively strikes just the right notes to deliver an original character for us to marvel at and, more importantly, care about.

Scarlett Johansson is the modern-day Barbara Stanwyck – hard edged on the outside and smoldering hot under the cool exterior. This quality couldn’t be more perfect for a movie that wants to make profound statements in an exciting and adventuress way. Her minimalist performance speeds the plot along and never gets in the way of the screenwriter’s very interesting ideas.

Directed and written by Luc Besson, of “The Fifth Element” and the “Taken” movies, he is a master of the fast-moving fish out of water plots. “Lucy” finds our title protagonist in a kind of dark and dangerous Alice in Wonderland nightmare.

Coerced into taking part in what seemed like a simple delivery of a locked briefcase – contents unknown to her, Lucy is captured, tortured and forced to take part in an international drug smuggling scheme. Lucy turns the tables on everyone, in one of the wildest and most original revenge scenarios imaginable. Aided by an expert on the human mind, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman), “Lucy” takes us into “Twilight Zone” territory.

This concise and compact rollercoaster ride plows through the past, present and future – literally. It begins in the present, zaps back to prehistoric apes and dinosaurs, stops off briefly in Colonial times and then plunges headlong into the future cosmos and mind expanding visuals – straight into infinity. This is accomplished by nearly a hundred special effects and art direction teams that realize Luc Besson’s vision.

Aside from its “Twilight Zone” influences, Besson is surely paying homage to the great director, Stanley Kubrick. The last 10 minutes of the film just may blow your mind as “2001 A Space Odyssey” did, way back when. It doesn’t reach the greatness of that movie, but “Lucy” is thrilling entertainment. It deals with subjects like the power of the mind, unending human potential and spiritual awareness, in a way that only good science fiction can. And it delivers it disguised in an action-packed 90 minutes.

“Lucy” doesn’t overstay her welcome. She gets the job done and then disappears. You’ll see what I mean.

“Lucy” is currently in theaters.


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