Friday, March 18, 2011

Limitless

Review by Pete Roche

The longstanding theory that humans use only a fraction of their brain was disproved on an October 2010 episode of TV’s popular Mythbusters.  A magneto-encephalograph revealed that most of a person’s brain—certainly more than the hypothesized 10%—is being utilized constantly, even while sleeping.  Still, wouldn’t it be cool if a magic pill could maximize one’s intellect or allow one to tap those seemingly inaccessible portions of the cerebral cortex?  Who doesn’t want photographic memory and lightning-fast cognition?  Such talents would render a person capable of becoming an IRS super-agent, an astrophysicist, neurosurgeon, or recurring Jeopardy! champion.  I’ll take ‘MENSA’ for $200, Alex!

And if such a tablet existed, hey, why not give it to actor Bradley Cooper (THE HANGOVER, THE A-TEAM)?  Dude’s already handsome; why not perfect the package and have at least one exemplary model Homo sapiens walking around? 

Eddie Morra (Cooper) has the power in Neil Burger’s LIMITLESS, but we know it won’t come cheap.  No, Eddie’s s ex-brother-in-law doesn’t charge the slovenly wannabe author for a sample (valued at $800), but stuff like this always has side effects—physical, psychological, and moral.  Adapted from Alan Glynn’s 2001 techno-thriller The Dark Fields, the film explores the ups and downs of having a bona fide Beautiful Mind. 

Eddie has a book deal but loses his girl.  When a serendipitous street encounter sends him home with a single tablet of NZT-48, he literally charms the pants off his landlord’s squeeze and writes her thesis.  He knocks out the first portion of his own manuscript overnight, becomes fluent in several foreign languages, learns piano, and takes up day-trading.  After scoring more pills on the sly, Eddie embarks on a Brainiac rollercoaster ride, moving from Chinatown to Wall Street in a heartbeat. 

Impressed CEO Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) hires Eddie to orchestrate a Time-Warner-esque merger between his company and that of a mysteriously ill rival.  Eddie’s up to the task, but must avoid a Russian loan shark and a shady, John Malkovich-looking stalker.  His near-clairvoyance enables him to dodge most of his pursuers.  He fights others in the subway like a Jeet Kune Do expert, drawing on lessons learned from half-forgotten martial arts films on late-night TV.  But Eddie can’t account for the blackouts suffered when he “crashes.” And he’ll soon learn he’s not the only Megamind in Manhattan

LIMITLESS is an above-average conspiracy thriller with decent chases and fisticuffs (a climactic shootout featuring a blind gunman is especially tense).  The premise is engaging; we put ourselves in the shoes of this peon-turned-prince and repeatedly second-guess him (Cooper plays both versions well).  Would you divulge the secret of your sudden brilliance?  Would you use it responsibly?  The cinematography incorporates some neat visuals to represent the thoughts buzzing in Eddie’s head.  Smash-zooms thrust us down bustling streets, in and out of buildings and traffic.  Mathematical figures and Supreme Court opinions flicker in and out of sight.  PG-13 for some bloody violence.  2 ½ out of 4 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Such a great movie!!! Found this cool link..."Limitless in a min!"

    ReplyDelete

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