Monday 28 March 2011

Review: Limitless

Year: 2011
Director: Neil Burger
Screenplay: Leslie Dixon
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Abby Cornish, Robert Di Niro

Synopsis is here:

Limitless s about forward momentum and has enough drive to it that I didn't worry about those silly questions that could have tripped a different film up. It it also coming from a focal point of a narrator who spends most of his story on drugs, so when you ask yourself "how did that pill get there?" the film calmly states "you shouldn't be worrying too much about that lets see what happens next". Energy is key to the movie (hell even one of the characters deals in it) and Limitless has more than enough for the ride it's taking you on.

Limitless is a pulpy film which zips along due to two reasons; one you have a charismatic front man in Bradley Cooper who is showing off his range well and two, director Neil Burger and his crew bring a certain amount of visual flair to the film while keeping enough track on the story. Some elements aren't the best (Coopers constant narration of the story is at times unneeded) but the films hustle gets it through. Washed out city streets wrap into to bright colourful places with a swallow of a pill. Visual tics which could easily remind one of Darren Anofsky's Requiem for a Dream are used here, not to overwhelm the film but to enhance the pill popping nature of whole situation.

This is combined with Bradley Cooper, who is on top form here. The slick back hair and the slightly smug smile is heightened by the fact that Cooper walks the walk very well. It's no surprise the film delves into stocks and shares because Cooper's performance is one of a coked up broker. While he may not have that Gecko aggression (we still have to side with him), Coopers performance is best when the pill up's his confidence. It's a swagger that we've seen parts of in The Hangover and The A-Team but it's in full force here and great fun to watch.

An interesting factor for me is that as much of this film is just a mainstream thriller (and one that enjoys the execution of it's conventions) but there appears to be an interesting side note on America and it's taking of drugs as a whole. Not lest the fact that the pills effects make it a natural side-kick for wall street and that the drug and some of it's side-effects had me thinking to myself "Extreme Ritalin?" And yes, drug itself is a fictional beast and also illegal in it's universe, but there's a cynical nature to the films last moments that does enough to tickle the brain somewhat. The film main climax almost betrays this with a climax that's a bit neat. But the film manages to pull itself back somewhat with a nice amount of ambiguity. 

Limitless is enjoyable, fast paced ride with a charismatic leading actor and a solid supporting cast to go with him. It may not have the comeback performance that many are expecting from Bobby Di Niro (to be honest he's fine here), but its visuals, solid storytelling and breeziness of it all make it a fun watch.