Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Limitless" (2011) - Movie Review

Now I know what my mom was meaning when she kept on repeating to my brother and myself that we are not using our full potential. If only she knew that there will be a pill manufactured in “Limitless” that would enable us to access every tiny parts of our brain to the fullest extent then she would have had the sons she always wanted. I am kidding, it was only me. Neil Burger’s film takes a wild spin on this stellar premise and rides on top of it without any struggle. It is not here for glory but for thrills. And thrills it has.

When you do something that you never really thought you were capable of, you are in the midst of a fear of losing it. Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) comes to that fear. The film begins him wandering in the city as a bum. Oddly enough Eddie accepts his failure and the blankness of his future. This they do effectively in the few scenes we get to know him when he is not at his best. A failed marriage, failing relationship, a writer’s block which surprises on how he got a contract in first place and finally he is broke too. All constitute to a finely prepared dish of destitute and despair. At the pinnacle of his misery comes in his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) and offers something to show his power and attitude than anything. It opens up the windows and doors inside Eddie’s brain and shatters the walls outside of it. He mesmerizes himself. This is pure knowledge ready to receive and retrieve pumping up unstoppably. He is hooked and I do not blame him.

The neatness in the technique on how they penetrate the audience’s mind with this effect makes all the difference in an otherwise very ordinary film. The camera work which begins right in the title credits zooms beyond boundaries and keeps on going. It rains words when Eddie sits for his write up and the simplest philosophy of how he is brilliant buys us into this myth. The pill does not provide super powers like telepathy or some extraordinary mind trick. It simply finds the routes to access information that has been read, seen or absorbed in his entire life. The things that are already known are readily available and it happens faster than he could even think.

Eddie obviously completes his book and attains his immediate goal. He gets out of his misery but now what? What would the smartest guy think of wanting more? Power, money? Eddie never expresses those as the motivation is obvious. He tells he wants things more than books and attacks the place where rapid soar of success is so believable and unquestionable, day trading. He is a super rock star and he steps up to meet the tycoon of the industry Robert De Niro’s Carl Van Loon. Robert De Niro convincingly, deservingly and powerfully provides a much and long awaited supporting role wherein his presence means a lot more than the character itself. This is not his greatest but this is how he rolls and it is great to see him kicking the screen.

People reading this review should not mistake it for a stamp of saying it as the best film so far. It is a seriously good thriller. It is smart enough to know its ground and play within the rules and snaps its finger to keep going on. Bradley Cooper though is not a splendid actor is a hard working one. Clearly I do not see the capacity I saw in Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling when they began their career in their earlier films. Cooper though works laboriously in building his character and for some reason I could see it without that hindering the performance. In his pre-pill Eddie Mora, he gets to the basics and goes shabby and makes us not even sympathize much for the guy because he seems to have come to acceptance with his poor destiny. Then he charms off as this intelligent power magnet going around and talking his way in and out.

In this mix is his girl friend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) who comes and goes as the script treats her to be. The film does not lose its way in romance or emotions as this is a thriller running high on highway and not stopping for refueling. It knows that their pill lasts less than two hours and hence take no risks. They conveniently leave off murder trails, put some power writing for explanation than actual reasoning but never goes of track. Neil Burger uses the fast screenplay by Leslie Dixon basing her writing off “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn. Burger also gets good supporting technicians in cinematographer Jo Willems and editors in Tracy Adams and Naomi Geraghty knotting this entertaining thriller.

The process of Eddie going on high and low depending on the pill intake is something I will leave it up to you to see as that is the thrilling part. But I do have to tell the part when De Niro as Carl blasts Eddie with sheer truth and anger. It is not about his control over Eddie but about this nobody rocketing his way up within months as Carl worked his butt off to be where he is. If anyone could make that grinding look entertaining and place an offer and make his audience and Bradley Cooper see him in awe, that can only be De Niro.

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