Monday, March 21, 2011

New Release: Limitless

Have you ever had the feeling when seeing your high school boy/girlfriend again that they became someone you didn't really expect?  That's how I feel about Bradley Cooper.  I was a huge fan of the TV show "Alias" several years ago, and Cooper was on the first few seasons.  He played Will Tippin, a young journalist investigating his friend's murder and getting in way over his head.  Now he's in Limitless, a thriller about loser who takes a new drug and unlocks every part of his brain (and assholic tendencies).  It was kind of like seeing your old friend all grown up and a jerk.
Eddie contemplating taking NZT the first time.

However, Limitless is a pretty amazing film.  Perhaps a little more violent than necessary (a needle stabbed in the eye seems to be my threshold), but wonderfully suspenseful and gripping, Limitless follows Eddie Morra (Cooper), a writer without a word to his name who stumbles upon an old friend with a drug for him.  Known by its initials, NZT will let you see and remember and coordinate everything you've ever experienced, making you smarter, wittier, and luckier than anyone you've ever met.  Eddie finishes his book, but realizes how much more he can be and that life is really about money.  There's a moment when he thinks he'll change the world if only he had enough money - but we never really find out what he plans to do with the money.  But he ends up working for mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro in an amazing supporting performance).  This is at heart a story about drug addiction - but what if taking the drug actually DID make your life better, and perhaps the world around you, rather than sinking you to the depths of despair.

Well, will all great things, there's a price for this drug - it can kill you or totally screw you up if you keep taking too much of it, plus anyone who knows you have it will come after you.  But this movie does a better job than most filling the holes in its mythology - for someone who has become infinitely smart, you'd assume they could figure out how to control the side effects and availability of the drug.  There are a few other struggles Morra has to overcome (including a Russian mobster), and he drags girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) into helping him.  But it's not a romantic story - though the screenwriter Leslie Dixon is behind Hairspray, Freaky Friday, and Just Like Heaven. Director Neil Burger is only known for The Illusionist, but keeps a tight control on the directing - taking a page from Aranofsky's Requiem for a Dream getting high sequences.  Cooper does a great job carrying the movie almost entirely on his shoulders. Overall, a good movie that leaves you breathless but kind makes you feel a little dirty for ever liking this guy to begin with.  4 of 5 stars/lambs


Fletch said...

"for someone who has become infinitely smart, you'd assume they could figure out how to control the side effects and availability of the drug"

Ha! Indeed - best plot hole I've seen brought up yet. I mean, he kind of alludes to that at one point, but really, those problems should have never come up, right?

I dug this, too. Which is weird, because I think it had a lot of issues. Just very well-made, and had a lot of spunk and energy to it. Suffered from some poor writing and characters here and there, but Cooper carried it and the direction was my-t sharp.

Dan O. said...

You could pick the script apart for impossibilities. But why bother? It's much more enjoyable to shut your brain off and have a good time. Cooper is also amazing as a leading man, and can really pull it off. Good review, check out mine when you can!