Monday, 18 February 2013

Limitless, dir. Neil Burger, scr. Leslie Dixon, based on The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, st. Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro

Similarities abound between this biotech thriller from The Illusionist helmer Burger and Josh Trank's Chronicle in that they both document the same urge for fevered dreamlike desires. In Chronicle, three high-school kids take on extra-sensory powers after investigating a sink-hole. They can - and do - do everything, even flying through the sky through bursts of dense cloud. Limitless' hero Eddie Morra is older but with the same school-slacker mentality; unkempt and living in his own filth, Eddie has writers' block, and to make matters worse, he's just been dumped by his girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) for ongoing douchedom. This movie's Macguffin, like Chronicle's buried alien artefact, is a pill that allows the ingester to access 100% of his brain, no matter what his attitudes may be towards spurious urban myths. Eddie's eyes dilate. He gets himself a suit, a haircut, a posse of friends, and a goal - make it big on the stock exchange. After that? What can't he do with his new ability? Only, like all the best things in life, there's a price to pay for overindulgence. Burger's film is just what it purports to be, a visually arresting and enjoyable pseudo-sci-fi romp that never takes itself as seriously as you hope it won't. Cooper neatly sidesteps smugness even if his character's vanity is damming, and portrays an endearing and persuasive protagonist. It even has an ending that doesn't feel like the cop-out it might resemble from a different angle. Like NZT-48 itself, the magic might not have a long-lasting effect, but for its duration, Limitless is quite a buzz.