FILM REVIEW: Limitless
- March 18, 2011 1:10 AM |
- By Eli Glasner
Bradley Cooper stars in the action thriller Limitless (Alliance Films)
Bradley Cooper does great stubble.
It's perfect, day-and-a-half growth that covers his pointed chin. It offers a touch of machismo that says, "Yes I'm Ken-doll handsome, but still cool enough to kick back in my Tevas and have a beer with my bros.
Up until now, Cooper has specialized in playing the kind of guy men admire and women hate to love. His frat-boy persona crystallized in last summer's The Hangover. With Limitless, Cooper jumps from comedic wingman to centre stage.
Helped out by an aggressively amoral script and ambitious visuals, Limitless turns out to be an excellent launching pad for Cooper's many charms.
The story is simple: Bradley portrays Eddie, a messy-haired slacker writer who discovers a wonder drug called NZT that unlocks his hidden potential. We've all heard that of the concept that humans only use 10 per cent of our brains. With a shiny, translucent pill, Eddie is able to unlock the other 90 per cent.
He becomes a financial wizard, trying to score big before his brain candy runs out. Of course, knowledge comes at a cost. Eddie becomes like Gordon Gekko mixed with Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man, but blackouts and an unsolved murder soon send him into a downward spiral. Even worse, his meteoric rise puts him on the radar of Carl Van Loon, a Wall Street kingpin played by Robert De Niro.
After a largely embarrassing decade, De Niro seems to be back in the groove and brings some gravity to this hyper-fast tale. Stuffed into his tailored suit and Hermès tie, he snarls at Cooper's upstart, who has knowledge but no experience.
Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star in Limitless. (Alliance Films)
Great line: "You don't know how to assess your competition because you haven't competed. Don't make me your competition."
Like a cross between Enter the Void and Fight Club, Limitless delivers a cinematic rush. The movie starts out grey, but after Eddie pops the wonder drug his face glows and everything picks up a golden hue similar to the permanent dusk of CSI Miami. Words and numbers fly through the air as Cooper writes novels in mere days, cracks Wall Street's code and becomes an uber-dude. Later, when the effects of NZT take their toll, the picture shifts and skips, reflecting Eddie's world becoming a messy blur.
While the shape of the story isn't too surprising, director Neil Burger teases us along with a steady IV drip of imagery. When surprised by some thugs in the subway, Eddie accesses old kung fu films to fight back. Flirting with his landlord's wife in the hallway, a glimpse of a textbook brings back visions of college term papers. The world is a sudoku puzzle waiting to be solved and Limitless injects us with a feeling of invincibility.
Note: keep your eyes out for a scene-stealing performance by Andrew Howard as a local loan shark who discovers the wonder drug with the sadistic glee of a bully given a bigger baseball bat.
Rating: Four stubbly chins out of five
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