Thursday 14 July 2011

Today's Review: Limitless

Limitless looked to me like a movie where a guy takes a pill and then spends an inordinate amount of time driving cars and beating people up. No idea where I got the impression, 'cause it's actually a lot more than that.

Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a guy who's pretty down on his luck. He has a book contract, not that he's written a word of his book, his girlfriend has dumped him for being an aimless loser, and his life pretty much sucks. Then one day he meets his ex-wife's brother in the street, who offers him a clear pill that will apparently make everything a lot better for him.Eddie thinks "Hey, why not?" and dutifuly downs it, 'cause what harm could a transparent pill be? It's probably just a piece of plastic or something.

Except it's not. The pill, known as NZT-48, actually opens up new synapses in the brain that allows people to unlock their full potential. Eddie finishes his book in a few days, learns languages just by half paying attention to audio tapes, and manages to find patterns in the stock market to make shitloads of money. Trouble is, his ex-brother-in-law gets murdered by unknown assailants, and Eddie's only supply of NZT is what he recovers from the victim's oven.

Of course, the drug is pretty amazing, and is manufactured by somebody, and Eddie soon finds himself being chased by shadowy people, and also the loan shark he borrowed money from in order to invest in stocks. Everyone seems to want a piece of what Eddie's got, but of course Eddie is still using NZT, so he can keep one step ahead at all times with his newfound awesome brain powers. But as side effects start to emerge from his drug usage, he must balance up his personal health with the income and evasion abilitied that the drug provides him.

There is not as much action in Limitless as I thought there'd be. Sure, there's a fist fight, where Eddie recalls snippets of fights he's seen on TV through his life and can replicate them perfectly, but the majority of ways that he uses his powers is in the manipulation of stock markets, and the learning of new skills and languages. Bradley Cooper does a great job in the lead role, and oozes charisma as the charming drugged up Eddie. His narration throughout the film is great too.

Probably the best thing about Limitless is that everything doesn't go great for Eddie. Sure, there are people after him, which you'd expect from this kind of movie, but the side effects that emerge from his constant consumption of NZT are a nice touch. As Eddie begins to find more people who have taken the drug the side effects become more apparent. This is where a great element of the effects of drug abuse is thrown in, and is used to quite good effect.

Limitless almost delves into the style of Requiem For A Dream at time. When Eddie is on NZT, the once gloomy and grey picture quickly brightens up and becomes vibrant with colour. Trippy special effect are also used to convey the wackiness of being on this drug. It almost mimics the trippy sequences seen in Requiem For A Dream, and when Eddie starts suffering from the side effects he looks to be in a bad way, but it also very reluctant to give the drug up. This side plot is quite an interesting take on drug dependency in real life, and I wish they'd gone further into this, but it all seems to vanish as the end of the movie approaches.

Limitless is a lot better than I thought it would be. It could have been an all out action movie, but the direction it takes is quite smart, and there are some quite thought provoking moments throughout. While it does eventually follow quite Hollywood-style conventions, it leaves enough ambiguity to raise discussion. The characters are great and there are enough twists and turns to hold your attention. In all, it's a very good movie.

My rating: 4/5

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