Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#117: Limitless

In director Neil Burger's Limitless, there's a believable premise that there is a pill out there that can enhance your brain's performance to it's fullest. Like all good things, this too comes with a pitfall- the side effects of this pill could eventually prove fatal. We don't know the whys and hows of it but the movie gives you more than a fleeting impression that there's something to that effect. Is there another pill that can prevent an individual's downfall? Is there a quantity of consumption upto which the pill works absolutely fine? We aren't told. The overall script and the workings of the key characters in the movie is somewhat similar to this premise - seemingly real but inexact and loose.

Bradley Cooper plays Edward Morra, a writer who is given a pill called NZT-48 by his former brother-in-law. Edwards' girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) is dumping Eddie because she is tired of paying his bills and listening to Eddie's excuses about completing his novel. Once Eddie sees the positive effects of the pill on his work, he wants more of it and a couple of fortuitous incidents later ends up with a complete sachet of pills. During this time, he assumes the role of a financial trader and impresses Carl Van Loon (De Niro)- a wealthy businessman who takes Eddie on his payroll. And soon enough Lindy comes back into his life. This picture perfect turnaround in his life however gets threatened by Gennady (Andrew Howard) a Russian goon who is hellbent on extracting those pills from Eddie. Now what ?

The characters in Limitless speak to you directly with their problems especially Bradley Cooper and it is refreshing to see him in a role that required a considerable change from some of his previous avatars. Edward is a man in a mess who finds a ray of hope and wants to cling on to it in spite of the repercussions. His act is concrete and with a near flawless performance he is constantly reminding us that a lot is to be sorted in his life before we come to the end in the movie. What's perplexing, however, is De Niro accepting the role of a business tycoon that has as little substance as spunk. His appearance towards the end in what is supposed to be a story twist is too muted for an actor of his stature. They probably handled the props better in this movie. The rest of the supporting cast is always around and to be fair to them-they fill more than just the screen space. But in a movie where Bradley Cooper becomes a potential candidate for U.S. Presidency and runs for Senate in a span of 12 months with no prior political experience, there's only so much a supporting cast can do to redeem the mediocrity of it all.

Limitless is found wanting in it's impact largely due to a story that fails to excite. With the kind of cast it had, it should've delivered more punches that what it eventually managed. There are parts in the movie that will get you going and you wish they were more of those. You know those key moments in movies where a character or a particular plot point stands up to deliver that knockout punch- well, let's just say, Limitless was quite limited on that count.

Rating: 5.8/10