There was a time when you knew what to expect from a Luc Besson film; titles like Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element were action-packed affairs that had a fair number of memorable set pieces.

In recent years though, the French director has diversified by dabbling in animation with his Arthur and the Invisibles trilogy, 2011's historic biography The Lady and last year's comedy crime thriller The Family.

With Lucy, Besson returns not only to his action roots but also to having a female lead at her ass-kicking best.

boom reviews - Lucy
Scarlett Johansson turns into a proper brainiac in Lucy.

Only fresh into a relationship, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) isn't sure she's up for doing favours for her new beau Richard (Pilou Asbaek). Not that he's asking much; just for her to walk into the hotel foyer and get reception to inform a Mr Jang (Min-sik Choi) that she has a suitcase for him.

Still, just as she's on the cusp of declining, he slaps handcuffs on her, with one end connected to the case. That's that then.

He tries to calm her down and say she'll be in and out in minutes, and he'd do it himself if it wasn't for the fact that he's done this drop a number of times already so it may look suspicious.

So somewhat begrudgingly, Lucy enters the hotel. As her initial instincts suggested, it was a really bad idea. Mr Jang is nowhere near as hospitable as he might have been and treats her roughly, to say the least.

In fact, Mr Jang turns Lucy and a few other foreigners into drug mules for his business. He has cut them open and inserted large quantities of a new drug known as CPH4 into their bodies, which, once removed at their final destination, he anticipates will go down a storm in Europe.

Lucy's stash doesn't make it that far, not intact at least, as it breaks open insider her and leaks into her system. With so much of this new synthetic drug sloshing about inside her it begins to allow her to unlock more than the possibly apocryphal 10% that we normally utilise, giving her access to incredible new powers.

With these new-found abilities she sees no reason in getting mad. There's nothing wrong with getting even, however.

boom reviews - Lucy
Hmmm, caffeine...

It would appear that at least one good thing came out of Johansson's role in the inanely dull Under the Skin: it allowed her to finesse her portrayal of an emotionless being, which she takes to the next level in this feature. This time though, it's a far more enjoyable performance.

Besson has a history of giving strong leads to women (Natalie Portman – Leon, Anne Parillaud – Nikita and Milla Jovovich – The Fifth Element, Joan of Arc) and Johansson continues this theme. The popular starlet is hardly pushing herself as a thespian though, as her character is just a vehicle for some hardcore action. But in Besson's capable hands, there's nothing wrong with that.

Lucy is very reminiscent of the director's earlier work, with its enthusiastic approach at delivering high octane set pieces. It starts off with all guns blazing, and very rarely comes down from that.

Besson's also in a very playful mood, as he inserts visual metaphors - given by Morgan Freeman's character, who happens to be giving a lecture on the brain and its abilities – that tie in with Lucy's actions. They're far too obvious to matter, but Besson enjoys the juxtaposition of the images he displays with the incremental unlocking of Lucy's brain’s capacity to reveal even more power at her disposal.

Yes, it's outrageously ridiculous in both plot and execution, but damn if it isn't oddly entertaining. In short, it's a little bit bonkers, but gloriously so. At times it may have you fighting the need to laugh out loud due to an abundance of silliness, but just go with it. Besson is having fun with this feature, so you should too.

Despite the film's curious theme of improving brain power, you don't need to be a genius to suggest that you'll enjoy it far more if (like your mobile phone) you turn it off for the duration. Brain-numbing fun at its best.

we give this four out of five