Lucy: Scarlett Johansson Kick Ass Actioner

One of Hollywood’s hottest action stars should inject a shot of adrenaline into the moribund summer box office this weekend, when “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson’s revenge thriller, hits screens.

Distributed by Universal, “Lucy,” unrolls across 3,172 theaters this weekend and should shoot up an estimated $36 million.

That would be a nice return on a $40 million budget and a sign that audiences don’t always need their on-screen mayhem to arrive pre-branded, pre-merchandised and plucked from venerable comic books or toylines. It’s the rare original film that looks ready to upend the steady stream of same-olds.

One of the most versatile and busiest actresses in Hollywood today, Scarlett Johansson has shown that she is adept at any kind of genre, romantic comedies (“Vicki Cristina Barcelona”) for Woody Allen, inventive drmaedies (“Her”) for Spike Jonze, mysteries for Joanthan Glazer, as the extraterrestrial in the sadly underestimated “Under the Skin,” and so on.

In her first lead in an actioner, Lucy, directed by the French Luc Besson, Johansson continues to impress, rising way above the preposterously plotted high-concept thriller, as the first human being to successfully harness 100% of her brainpower.   Thus, “Lucy” centers on a drug mule who unlocks superhuman abilities that allow her to access more than the standard 10% of the brain.

Made by Gallic director Luc Besson (“The Professional”), the production has been bolstered by gritty promos and has benefited from Johansson’s gun-toting role in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the top-grossing film of the year in the U.S. If the film works, she could emerge as the successor to Angelina Jolie as the preeminent female action star.