By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on July 25, 2014

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Dear Arnaud Hemery
Data Manager

Dear Arnaud,

That must have been one hell of a database you had to sort through! Most people would have a difficult enough time managing all the normal files for this type of film. You know: CarFlipCamera4Take12.xml, ThroatPunch17AsianGangBlooper.xml, ScarJoLegSpreadMoneyShot.xml, etc.

But then someone like writer/director Luc Besson comes along and says: "That's not enough! I want shots of dolphins flipping out of the water! Lions ripping out a gazelle's throat! Beetles humping on a leaf!"

And so, while scrambling to keep all the files in order, you probably thought: "Okay, he wants to draw some parallels between the action of the film and the natural world. That might work." But poor you--you hadn't even scratched the surface of your post-production adventure on Lucy.

The story begins slowly, until the first interstitial nature shots come out of nowhere. Some douche in a cowboy hat doesn't want to drop off a mysterious suitcase himself, so he hands it off to his girlfriend, Scarlett Johansson. As she walks into an expensive Taiwanese hotel lobby, Besson intercuts scenes of an impala being hunted by cheetah. Foreshadowing! It's pretty heavy-handed, but, even worse, there's no character motivation for these flashes. Instead, Besson is simply setting up the montage barrage he's going to unleash in the second half of the film.

That, I assume, is when your real nightmare began. We get shots of tornadoes and floods and eagles and iguanas and mousetraps and cavemen and magicians and fighter jets and bustling cities and man-made islands and more shots that aren't just inspired by Ron Fricke, but actually licensed from Baraka _and Samsara_. All in the service of showing us the broad, wild, and wonderful range of life on earth that Lucy learns to experience when the secret thing she was delivering - a synthetic super-drug - unleashes the full potential of her brain.

Lucy is a prototypical high-concept action movie, meaning the "concept" is the market differentiator, and the "action" puts butts in seats. Besson probably imagined it as The Tree of Life meets The Matrix, though it turned out more like Limitless meets La Femme Nikita--which, when everything starts coming together, turns out to be a perfectly serviceable model. Johansson gets all of her heavy dramatics out of the way early, then embarks on her path to enlightenment and ass-kicking. This is punctuated by ascending numbers that show up every 10 minutes or so , telling us what percentage of her brain has been unlocked (nice even intervals of 10%, 20%, 30%, etc). You probably loved cataloguing those shots for the same reason anyone watching will enjoy them: they're clean and simple, come in a logical progression, and actually build tension/excitement.

They're just maybe not as fun as all that other stuff.

Managing this film just fine,


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