Not Quite Limitless
Director: Neil Burger
Writer: Leslie Dixon (screenplay), Alan Glynn (novel)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth
RANT: Me and the boys from work quested to the College Point movie theater to take in Limitless. The theater is not the Westbury Regal I frequent and love, but it'll do in a pinch - especially since its 2 blocks from work. A quick Wendy's dinner and we were off!
SYNOPSIS: Loser Eddie Morra can't keep his girlfriend or write the first word in his novel, until he takes a top-secret drug that expands his brain to its limit - and beyond.
Director of The Lucky Ones and The Illusionist, Neil Burger, takes a screenplay written by Pay It Forward scribe Leslie Dixon from a novel by Alan Glynn entitled The Dark Fields. Limitless, as it is now called, revolves around Eddie Morra, a struggling writer and human being who is presented the gift of a lifetime - a pill that allows the user to access 100% of their brain.
The movie is presented with narrative from Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) a la Sunset Boulevard as he stands on the edge of a balcony several stories up in a high rise apartment, ready to make the leap to his death. What has brought this man to the brink? An experimental drug, MDT-48, which, in the words of Eddie, grants the user a 4-digit IQ. Able to write his novel in 4 days and turn a paltry sum of money into $1.2 million through undetected stock market patterns, Eddie sees this wonder drug as his ticket to bigger and better things. But Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) says to Eddie, "...you haven't earned this gifts", implying that using his super-computer brain without paying his dues will only lead to arrogance, entitlement and corrupt behavior.
Limitless is shot alternately with rich colors schemes and muted washed out tones. The intro title sequence is kinetic and rich, alluding to what the world must be like when using an enhancement substance like MDT-48. Some of the cinematography is disorienting, which also lets the moviegoer feel what its like to be on MDT-48.
While the protagonist is Eddie Morra, the villain of the story could be many people. Throughout the film, Eddie struggles against many obstacles. The first is his own inability to be a better person before the pills. Then he becomes involved in more than one murder that quickly dissipates into plot obscurity. Robert DeNiro's Van Loon could be the bad guy but Morra uses Van Loon's resources to get ahead financially and to learn the finance game. There is even a loan shark, Gennady (Andrew Howard) that wants his money back, as well as a taste of the drug. But at the end of the day, the real antagonist is addiction. Addiction to wealth, superiority, greed, and drugs all play their part.
The story loses strength and its way at times during the film, but finds its way back again as Eddie realizes that there is more at stake than the limitless potential of pharmaceuticals. The audience must have been on MDT-48 as well because some parts of the script on screen were obvious and easily discerned. Cooper's character Eddie says that he sees 50 scenarios, but an intelligent viewer will see much of the film unfold before it actually does.
Limitless is a neat techno-thriller with a couple cool ingredients. You have Bradley Cooper with his cool charm and sharp blue eyes, Robert DeNiro with an admiration and envy of a man he can't figure out, and a plight as to how Eddie will survive on the pills without burning out or killing himself or survive once the pills run out. If you have no other films on your docket, give Limitless a try. Otherwise, you can wait.
WORTH: Matinee or Netflix
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