Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Limitless [ Movie Review ] ★★★1/2

The Pitch

Just imagine a drug that could maximize the usage of your brainpower. Pushing the limits of the brain's capabilities. Doing things that one is usually incapable of or too unfocused for. Limitless is about one man's journey when he was able to unexpectedly to fully max his brain out.

For the role of the protagonist role, there's Bradley Cooper who had recently gained popularity with The Hangover. Hollywood veteran Robert De Niro will be supporting as a successful businessman who recognize the unusual abilities that the protagonist exhibits. Should be fun to see how these two square off in Limitless.

The Plot

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer struggling with writer blocks. It got so bad that he couldn't even write a single word for his first book. His girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) is breaking up with him and his life seems to be going nowhere.

He bumped into Vernon Grant, his ex wife's brother and he offered Eddie a solution to his current problem. NZT-48, A drug that could solved his problem. Initially skeptic about it, Edward decided to give the pill a try and pretty soon, he was discovering the wonders that the pill could provide.

Impressed with the drug, Eddie went back to Vernon for more of it. But before he could get to the drugs, he finds Vernon dead. Frantically, Eddie searched all over the house for the special drug and came across a stash of NZT, a phone book and cash.

With the drugs at his disposal, he finished his book quickly and radically changed his image. He soon realized that with his new found capabilities, he could be doing so much more. He decided to dabble in the stocks market and became very successful in that field. His unusual decisions with the stocks soon gained the attention of a powerful businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). His life seemed to be on the fast track to wealth and happiness when he started having blackouts.

He soon realized that there are consequences of relying too much on the drugs. He could have killed someone during his blackout. The business partnership with Carl Van Loon hangs in a delicate balance. He also found out that there are other people who are aware of this special drugs and would do anything to get their hands on to it. All these and Eddie trying to win back the affection of his ex girlfriend.

The Perspective

The problem with making a movie about someone becoming super smart would be that the filmmaker need to keep up in pace with what people's perspective of what being smart is. In a way, you can't please them all with the decisions made to depict the unusual situation in Limitless.

There will be complains that if Eddie became smart, he wouldn't forget a simple and crucial matter that haunts him for the rest of the movie. Personally, I felt that if there's a drug that could help enhance the brain capacity, the drug user (Eddie) should have work on issues that occurred to him later sooner. But during a discussion with friends, a point was made about how not everyone would have make the same choices as me. In a way, Eddie might not be as financially motivated as I was. Thinking in this manner and allowing the character to take you on a trip based on his journey, one would be able to enjoy this movie more.

The journey itself was quite a breezy and intriguing one. As we "slowly" explore the life of a man who can use more of his brain capabilities, we are treated to various interesting snippets of how life could be if we become more focus and utilize our brains better. It also showed how over dependance on drugs could be just as bad as real life.

The various threats that Eddie faced once he had the super drugs kept the viewer on the edge. It often make me wonder what would I do if I am in Eddie shoes. The ideology might be different but it was fun and interesting to see what the movie churned out.

Bradley Cooper's performance was another reason why Limitless was able to sell it's improbable premise. His endearing screen charisma made it easy to root for him, even when he was basically taking drugs to get ahead. His performance was good enough to convince the "miracle" power of NZT-48.

Robert DeNiro on the other hand had limited screen time. There's nothing impressive about his character and he is basically there to lend his presence to his character so that Carl Van Loon would have the screen cred  that viewers could quickly accept that Carl Van Loon is a powerful businessman that yuppies are dying to work with him.

Last but not least, how do you close a movie that basically about substance abuse. There were a major argument discussion on what the ending meant and how it ended. My friend thought it was a copped out and I thought it was a great closure to the movie. My friend felt that the theme with the dependency on drugs might give censorship ratings problems to this movie and Limitless basically sidetrack it with a fast forward "blackout". To a certain degree, I agreed that the drugs usage might become a problem if the protagonist was shown to be winning with drugs. But I thought it was a smart way to avoid the potential censorship issues while not shying away from the substance abuse of this movie. Not only that, it managed to advance the premise to another level which I felt was what the theme of this movie all about.

Limitless might not be for everyone but for someone who is seeking something new and different, this movie would come highly recommended. Although personally, I didn't like how the pace of the story moved so "slowly" for someone who is high on intelligent drugs but those minor issues could easily be overlooked. I got a feeling that this movie would work even better on repeated viewing and /or commentaries / extras. Till then, Limitless is getting ★★★1/2 from me.

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