Movie-Hype (#767)  LIMITLESS

LIMITLESS is one of those movies with such an intriguing interesting concept that you end up being more disappointed than you really should be when it doesn't live up to the promise.

Meet Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a smart guy who can't seem to make it work, on the fast-track to rock bottom. Eddie has a book contract but hasn't written a word, his girlfriend just gave back her key and added an "ex" to her title; tired of supporting him when he clearly is going nowhere.

Eddie runs into a guy from a lifetime ago; dude used to be a scumbag dealer, and low and behold, he's got this new thing - NZT-48. "You know how we only use 20% of our brain at any one time? This pill lets you access the other 80%."

At this point I am contractually obligated to add the standard disclaimer that the 20% figure is a myth (didn't it used to be 10%? inflation, I guess....), except the dude said we only use 20% at one time, which is much more plausible. And what NZT does isn't adding IQ points from some magical realm, but simply connects all the information already in the brain, organizes it, synthesizes the data and makes it accessible and easy as breathing  Eddie can see patterns others can't, he can react quicker; he just knows what to do.

It's a pretty cool idea, and except for the trite first-person narration (which the director was likely hamstrung with because LIMITLESS was adapted from a first-person novel), the first 30 minutes hum by nicely.  Cooper effortlessly goes from sad-sack to inquisitive to smug without losing any credibility, and the very innovative and imaginative camera-work from director Neil Burger reminds me of Doug Liman (if he were trying to impress a chick).

Sadly, just when the plot really begins to build steam - Eddie using his brain to make some serious cash - it takes a pretty hard-core and perhaps sadly predictable left-turn into a cliched addiction metaphor. For awhile I thought we were watching Flowers for Algerbradley.

Disappointed hardly covers it.

It doesn't last too long, though, because before you know it (the film barely runs 90 minutes) LIMITLESS wraps up with a too-clever-by-half ending that left  me rolling my eyes.  Actually, that's not precisely true.  I didn't mind the ending so much, I even wanted the movie to get there, but they cut to it so quickly, it felt like they were saying, "Hey, it's almost 5:00 and we got to get home, so here you go."  Abrupt. Not satisfying.

This isn't to say the movie was boring. There were plenty of interesting visuals, and Cooper was charismatic throughout. (Abbie Cornish plays the on-again/off-again girlfriend, and does her best, but there isn't much of a part there. DeNiro shows up in his ongoing effort to ruin his legacy in a been-there-done-that performance that was so generic they could have cobbled it together from a dozen other of his roles and I wouldn't know the difference.)

Addiction metaphor isn't my favorite thing (especially when I wanted to see more how Eddie thought through what he wanted to do), but the paranoia aspects were atmospheric and effective, and the action, while seemingly forced and out-of-central-casting, was adrenalized.

But there was so much left on the table!  When Eddie first tries the pill he ends up writing 90 pages of his novel in a night, and finishes it four days later. I'd like to know what Eddie on NZT had to say - but we never get to hear a word. We don't even know what it's about. I would have liked another 15-20 minutes to flesh that out, along with what really interested me - watching Eddie "think" with his brain all connected, and seeing him work through the problems.

Other plot strands are handled in similarly casual fashion. There are some murders, and some blackouts, and Eddie may or may not have commi....wait, you say it's time to go?  Nice neat bow on the ending - another scene with DeNiro and Cooper for the movie trailer (and so Mr. DeNiro can get his per diem for the day's shooting)....and we're done!


That last paragraph wasn't me giving up on the review - I was describing how the movie just stops. If they can't be bothered to put more effort into it, neither can I.

July 19, 2011

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1 comment:

lost goddess said...

Hahahahha I love this review. I remember a time when this was what we did. Speaking or writing endless thoughts on movies and other ideas created from them. But I can not say I come to such an aggressive point of view over this one. true I was initially offended but the wrap up. I was immersed in the world the film quickly created. And like you disappointment and anger ensued. I was hurt by such abrupness. As a female anger subside and is replaced with appreciation for the journey and in the end I am grateful for the ride. I thought you'd feel the same way. Did you really expect the A$$H01es who run hollyweird to put anymore intellect into a movie then the entire whole collective hollywood is even capabil of??? lol Hyperion