Artwork and Review By: Daniel Albert
From the start Limitless was right up my alley. A sci fi thriller with a highly original premise that also stars three very high caliber actors is something that doesn’t come along very often (although we’ve been lucky enough to have a 2nd recently with the release of The Adjustment Bureau). So when it came time to view the film I dove in head first hopeful to come out the back end with a new film to add to my collection of sci fi favorites.
I’ll spare you all the “Limitless is actually quite limited” pun that most writers have been wetting themselves over since the movie’s release and give it to you straight. Limitless is a very good film. In fact it could have even been a great film, if it weren’t for a few unnecessary lapses in judgment on the part of all involved.
The plot goes something like this. Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer living in New York waiting for the world to decide his fate. Eddie is one of those guys who’s got so much potential you just want to shake him, yet his lack of motivation drives his life further down the tubes, and his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) has had enough.
Enter Eddie’s ex brother in law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), a sleazeball pusher with the key to all his problems; a little clear pill that let’s one tap into the unused percentage of their brain that holds a wealth of knowledge and useful information. The drug works for a while until side effects arise including black outs, being chased by bands of thugs, deterioration of the body, and the threat of withdrawal due to a dwindling supply.
As I said before this is a very good film. To start with the visuals are so engrossing and provocative that you hardly remember you’re watching a film at all. Even hardcore moviegoers will find visuals and camera techniques they’ve never seen before, which is a refreshing change to most of the dreck that’s been in theatres to start off 2011. In addition the score, pace and acting (with an all star cast like this would you really expect any less?) were all right on the money, sucking you into Eddie’s world.
So what were these glaring mistakes that had me so upset and frustrated that I wanted to chuck my drink at the screen. Well there are a few. The voice over is an essential part of this film and if it was removed altogether the film wouldn’t have nearly the same effect. With that said at times it was clunky and unnecessary and altogether could have easily been chopped without effecting the progression of the story at all.
In addition to some strange voice overs the director, or the screenwriter I’m still not exactly sure who’s guilty, took certain liberties and got greedy (let’s just say the most obvious of these has Abbie Cornish running with karate chop hands like she’s the six million dollar man, before she ultimately wields a child as a weapon). When dealing with science fiction directors must always keep in mind one thing; “suspension of disbelief”. You must always delay the movie goer from that pivotal moment where they decide whether or not something is so ridiculous that they no longer invest mentally in a movie. When done right the decision is delayed all the way up until the end of a movie.
Now although the problems I had with Limitless aren’t necessary unbelievable, they definitely are illogical (I mean a child as a weapon? really?). With that said the entire first act of the film is spotless and tight winding through twists and turns with panache and for that I give director Neil Burger kudos. All I’m saying is that next time you want to make a good movie great, reign it in a bit and don’t let the adrenal gland take over your brain.