Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Limitless

Dir. Neil Burger
Year: 2011
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 105mins

There is a scene right smack bang at the start of Neil Burger’s Limitless that zooms in on a dishevelled and raggedy-looking Bradley Cooper crossing the street. His voice-over intones that the reason he looks so homeless is because, wouldncha know it, he is a writer. Not necessarily a struggling one – a small, but convenient, New York City apartment with a sink of overflowing dishes that suggests he can at least afford food, plus a book deal with cash advance suggests otherwise – but a writer nonetheless. Being a writer, for Hollywood, means depressed, untidy and a general mess in the whole life-having department.

Cooper’s Eddie Morra walks the street looking alternatively drug addicted or in need of shelter. He stumbles about in tracksuit pants and with long, greasy hair trailing down from his scalp. As a writer myself, I can say that I have never looked like this. In fact, despite the precarious financial position that many of us find ourselves in – including the adult ones who have grown up, don’t include take out as their dietary staple and maybe even married – many of the creative types that I know are some of the most stylish people I know. I, for one, would never walk to the shops in trackies and smelling of canned fish, let alone around New York City.

Of course, this is all a rather silly sticking point to centre a review of Limitless around. Especially since this film features stuff like: the positive side of drug addiction; Bradley Cooper drinking blood and stabbing people in the eye with hypodermic needles; bizarre going nowhere subplots about a murdered skank (both this and Barney’s Version, out next week, feature a murder mystery subplot that literally goes nowhere); Abbie Cornish using an eight-year-old girl as a weapon and all sorts of other silliness you could only ever expect to see in a movie.

And yet Limitless doesn’t go far enough for my liking. When the absurdity really hits the fan in the final act, I couldn’t help but wish the entire movie had been as loopy. The sounds of horror and hilarity at the aforementioned blood-drinking scene by the crowd I saw it with was amusing in itself. The hyperactivity suggested by the wonderful opening credits sequence is there throughout the film’s entirety, but it strikes me more as a film that realised its inherent silliness a bit too late into production.

With his first solo lead role, Bradley Cooper makes a good enough go at being another in a long line of hunky, if not exactly rangey, actors like Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe (both of whom are, against time and space, starring together in an upcoming movie). Cooper has a bit of a brighter spark than those two and it must be said that he looks great in and out of a suit, so there is that too. Abbie Cornish is, surprisingly, the film’s greatest asset, no matter how underutilised she is. Cornish hasn’t been this bright eyed and beautiful yet, having usually been stuck with portraying miserable or quiet and introspective types in the past. With Limitless and the upcoming Sucker Punch, perhaps she’s coming out of her shell a bit, and for that I would be very thankful.

Audiences likely won’t overdose on Limitless - it is not a never-ending series of ridiculously entertaining absurdity like, say, The Green Hornet - but what’s there is perhaps just good enough to get a slight buzz. C+

1 comment:

BJO said...

It was quite funny listening to everyone in the theater laugh or shift uncomfortably when they realized that he was going to drink the blood.