April 2014 was a big month for Scarlett Johansson. She reprised her winning role as Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow in Marvel blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a hit which solidified her position as perhaps the premiere female action star. April also saw Johansson upping her her indie cred with the well-received art house sci-fi film Under the Skin.
Given that ScarJo was practically the co-lead of Captain America 2, it’s not surprising that Marvel often fields questions about featuring Johansson in a standalone Black Widow film. Still, fans can see the actress in full badass, superhero mode in director Luc Besson’s upcoming Lucy, and this time she’s not sharing the spotlight with anyone.
Lucy follows the title character as she is kidnapped and forced to become a drug mule, with some kind of dangerous substance surgically deposited into her stomach. The compound leaks into Lucy’s system, and suddenly she has heightened mental and physical abilities, becoming more powerful over time, to the point of being able to utilize “100% of the human brain,” as co-star Morgan Freeman intoned in the first Lucy trailer.
Now we’ll be able to watch Lucy in action sooner than we thought. Universal Pictures has moved up the official Lucy release date to July 25, 2014, up from its original August 8th date. They also released the movie’s new poster:
Rather than squaring off at the box office against the rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the film now has new competition in the form of Brett Ratner’s Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson. The July 25th weekend already sported counter-programming with the release of the raunchy comedy Sex Tape with Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz – does EuropaCorp and U.S. distributor Universal Pictures think Lucy has a better shot opposite the testosterone-laden sword-and-sandals Hercules than TMNT, given that the latter is likely to draw a pretty broad demographic, and that the Kellan Lutz Legend of Hercules bombed at the box office earlier this year?
It’s pretty clear that Lucy is relying on Johansson’s star power and super-heroic presence within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to draw crowds and drive the premise home. The plot of Luc Besson’s original script may feel rather shamelessly cobbled together from several other sci-fi/action/thrillers like Limitless, Hanna, certain aspects of the X-Men films and even The Matrix, as Lucy’s abilities evolve into something resembling Neo’s power to manipulate reality itself.
While many of the projects Besson produces and/or writes have often proved lacking -neither 3 Days to Kill or Brick Mansions is on par with Taken – as a director, his sci-fi and thriller features include wonderful cult favorites La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional, and loopy Bruce Willis vehicle The Fifth Element. Even if his more recent efforts are less-than-beloved – though his mob flick The Family has its supporters – Besson can be a restlessly energetic and inventive director, and the fantastical elements of Lucy are firmly in his wheelhouse.
Lucy is Scarlett Johansson’s moment in the sun. Without a comic book franchise in the background or a male superhero in sight, the question isn’t whether or not ScarJo can hold the screen (we know she can), but will her charisma prove enough to overshadow what is quite likely a patently ludicrous plot? We’ll find out two weeks earlier than before.
Lucy opens in U.S. theaters on July 25th, 2014