Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Limitless

In watching the film "Limitless," the first thing I found is that the title in no way reflects the quality of the film, because while the premise of the movie is interesting, the plot itself is little more than a glorified drug caper movie.  Bradley Cooper plays a run-of-the-mill underachieving writer who is suffering with a bout of chronic apathy masquerading as writer's block.  When he is presented the opportunity to take an experimental drug to cure the malaise that ails him, he jumps at the opportunity.  Jack Kerouac would be proud.

While watching this film, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a script born from the reject scraps of “Go,” “Boiler Room,” and “Two for the Money.”  Incompetent drug dealer? Check.  Cheesey Russian loan shark? Check.  Douche bag bankers? Check, check, and check.  The plot jumps from place to place quickly with such little exposition that I was hard pressed to remember why anything onscreen was taking place and worse still, why I should even care.  The plot has more holes in it than LA’s Wilshire Blvd. has potholes.  To remedy fhis, the director Neil Burger takes the lazy route and opts for a Bradley Cooper voice over to tell us how these logic issues will be ironed out in the future.  It makes me wonder if the movie would have been better if it were just one quick voice over telling viewers that eventually in the future things get ironed out.

Ultimately the movie is doomed to fail because if you are making a movie about a guy who becomes exponentially smarter than the average person, then the source material for the character had better be intelligently written.  It’s simply not enough for the protagonist to tell everyone on screen that he sees all the angles; the script has to set up the plot in a way that depicts this.  Unfortunately throughout the movie, it is more of the former than the latter and the movie suffers from credibility issues because of it.

As for the cast, Bradley Cooper is satisfactory in this role.  His natural delivery as an actor is perpetually tainted with a hint of sleaze and douchebaggery, which when coupled with a lack of plot development makes any kind of redemption for his character a tough sell.  As for Robert DeNiro, he has become a caricature of himself since "Analyze That” and does nothing in this film to reverse that trend.  I liked Abbie Cornish more in “Sucker Punch” but that matters very little because she completely fades from the picture in the third act.  And Andrew Howard deserves recognition for the worst Russian accent on screen since John Malkovich played Teddy KGB in "Rounders."

“Limitless" is one of those films that looks really slick when viewing its trailer because of its catchy premise, but ultimately the film fails to deliver. What you are left with is a movie that is only mildly entertaining and will most definitely be forgotten fifteen minutes after the credits begin to roll.  Watch this movie if you are really bored or if you have a long flight somewhere and are in desperate need of mindless distraction.  When viewed under these conditions, then it seems less like a waste of time.


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