As seems to be a regular occasion for your faithful reviewer and narrator, I received two free passes to a movie about which I was on the fence. Matter of fact, the last three movies to which I’ve had free passes have been fencers. Green Hornet (for which my tremendous hopes were dashed), The Adjustment Bureau (for which my tremendous hopes were dashed), and last night’s screening of Limitless.
Admittedly, I was a little off the fence regarding Limitless. It seemed one of those ignorable movies which would pass in and out of the box office so fast that it would leave me asking, “Oh, that came out already?”
Standing in line, I made my opinions known to my movie going companions and told them that I wasn’t sure. One of them reassured me, as I had reassured myself earlier in the day, “well, it has DeNiro”.
Indeed it did. And Bradley Cooper of The Hangover. And Abby Cornish of Ryan Phillipe’s Bedroom. The concept seemed cool, but I was still skeptical. There have been too many good-concept, no-delivery movies already in this young year. I didn’t want to put myself through another wasted few hours watching a turd float to the top of the punch bowl.
That said, with my expectations next to none, I actually mostly enjoyed Limitless.
Bradley Cooper plays Ed Morra, a depressed writer struggling with the block (if that’s not a relatable character to me, I don’t know what it) who happens upon an old acquaintance who offers him a free hit of a new drug which is, as the man says, designed to unlock the “80% of the human brain that we don’t use.” Of course, the “people only use 20% of their brain” statement has been disproved by science (yet continues to be proven practically based on the moron population of this planet), but I’ll willfully suspend both my disbelief and my utter nerdity.
Upon taking the pill (which appears to be a clear plastic button), he seduces his landlord’s hot asian girlfriend by helping her write a paper for law school then goes back to his apartment, cleans the whole place, and kicks out forty-plus pages of his sci-fi dystopian novel for which he has an advance contract and no actual writing.
When he wakes up the next day, he goes back to being a normal blocked writer.
Of course, he pursues the dealer to get more of the drug, NZT, finds him, and agrees to pick up some dry cleaning and breakfast in exchange for an opportunity to get his drugs. When he returns, the dealer is dead (murdered) but Ed finds the dealer’s stash. So begins the adventure.
You’ve seen the trailers, so you get the idea. Ed goes from zero to hero with the drop of a pill and, in an entertaining story, he rises to the top of the investment game. The increased intellect offered to him by the NZT allows him to see patterns in the stock market and, as he explains, become rich by investing based on the psychology of the market rather than the actual numbers.
He becomes famous, meets DeNiro’s mover/shaker big wig character, things go from there. He finds out there are side effects to the drug and that his life is in danger in more ways than he originally thought. It’s a story about a guy who falls straight down the rabbit hole to the bottom and how he copes with it once he gets there.
The reason this movie surprised me wasn’t because of the plot or the ending or any of the hitches and feigned, expected twists. It was the use of color and cinematography.
Like The Matrix before it, the real world is bland. Almost monochrome. Dim. You get an almost foreboding feeling of dreariness.
When Ed is on NZT, however, the world becomes bright, vibrant, and colorful. This is, no doubt, how addicts must see the world.
As far as the acting, Cooper proves that he can carry a movie here. He’s got the looks, the attitude, and the wit to be a leading man and does very well in his first outing as such.
DeNiro was a fair bit of awesome. His “clawing his way to the top” speeches carry well. My only problem was his overly obvious Donald Trump hair, taking a dig at Manhattan millionaires as a whole, I believe. I hope that’s not how he’s really wearing it now. If so, he loses the tiniest bit of his enormous cred with me, but it might just be a phase.
Abby Cornish? Anyone plays this part. Not a strong female lead. Nothing new here for recent cinema.
All in all, a good movie. A few cheesy parts, but generally decent. Slightly above mediocre. Almost enough that I would tell you to go see it in the theater. Don’t rush there, but you won’t necessarily be wasting your money or your time. And, you’ll find yourself coming out of that movie thinking that you would absolutely take that drug all day and all night.
Bidula’s Last Word: 6.5/10 (The .5 is for DeNiro).
Keep fighting the good fight.