Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughts On...Limitless

   I got a chance to see Limitless last Monday, and what a time.  All I had heard before going in was that it was a remake of something back in the day, as so much is currently.  I also caught the trailer sometime in the months preceding.  This also marks the first time I’ve been out to a theatre in some time.  It takes an intriguing movie or persuasive people to get me into a theatre, and it was the people this time, not so much the film.  Personally, I’ve been thinking of going to see Red Riding Hood, but that’s because it looks so delightfully camp, and I’d like to give the director a shot when she isn’t working with the Twilight series.   Back to topic.    Oh, and I’ll be touching on mild *SPOILERS*

   Bradley Cooper’s character explains himself as a muse-less writer, burnt out and in the gutter, so to speak, until a chance encounter with an estranged ex-brother-in-law provides him with a miracle drug.  NZT, our deus-ex, acts as a jacked up, adult version of Ritalin, with no real downside or side effect, if used as directed (overdose causes memory lapses and psychosis).  As our protagonist pulls his life together, he starts moving up in the world, learning ad mastering skills, languages and perception in seconds rather than the requisite 10,000 hours it takes everyone else.  He moves into the world of finance and business, gets in trouble with a loan shark, and meets DeNiro’s character at the top of the corporate ladder.
   As for what didn’t sit well, the start up bugged me.  I think I’m just getting burnt out on “Tarantino-ing” movies, starting with the end and then recapping.  Limitless pushes it a bit though, which is a nice twist.  The film starts with our suited protagonist on a ledge with pounding at the door behind him, ready to jump.  Then comes the first two acts as narrated flashback to bring the audience back to the ledge.  It works, but it’s probably just me who’s getting to dislike the quick peek forward before being brought back. 
   As a good note, the film doesn’t end with a swan dive away from pursuers, but goes on to end the scene and then provide a fast forward epilogue.  It’s a good time, but outside of a handful of one-liners, isn’t that memorable.  The acting is good, but nothing worthy of stunning praise.  Bradley Cooper’s transformation from a dishevelled writer to the sleek and suited business version of himself was that dramatic a moment as it should have been for me, but then I find makeover scenes a tad insulting.  Still, the glimmer and gloss of Cooper’s blue eyes once he’s back on his wonder drug feels wonderfully simple and effective.  The film was dynamic and constantly in motion, yet everything was visible and at no point was I unsure of what was happening on-screen.  The stretched zoom-shots were dizzying at times, but were used to good effect for the time segues.
   The only thought that still stands out to me is something that I saw when coming out of the theatre.  On ticket booth was a small poster which looked to be advertising the drug of the poster and my thought was this:  there aren’t many drug tie-ins with movies.  I’ve seen plenty of toys, books and games, but not many pharmaceutical’s marketed alongside movies, which is a pity, because if there was ever a drug to buy, NZT would be it, closely followed by some of the health care products provided by Umbrella Corp.  I haven’t looked in to it, but what a fun concept.  The entire movie can be treated as an ad for a miracle drug with the profitable message, stick to the dose, don’t skip daily usage and your life will improve drastically.  You’ll acquire fame, fortune and the illusive lifestyle of those who have it, along with all their toys.  Such build up for an enhanced concentration drug.

   Overall impression was good.  It’s not the smartest movie out there by any margin, but it’s fast paced, good to look at and coherent.  What complaints I level at it are drowned out by the good time I had; it was fun.  If the trailer was a good time for you, give it a look.

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