My Ten Cents On: Limitless

I’m sure, like me, many of you have looked back at your past and thought: “I could have done better, or I wasted my potential in that way or another.” I mean, we are human, we do make mistakes amidst our successes, and those have all led us to becoming who we are today. But what if there was something… a supplement, if you will, that would allow you to unlock the unlimited potential of your brain, to learn anything and everything, to recall even the smallest memories of your childhood, what would you say to that?

Limitless delves into that very scenario. Starring Bradley Cooper (yes, ladies, I heard you sigh/squeal/whinny when you saw his face on the poster up there) and the always amazing Robert De Niro, this thriller follows the story of Eddie Morra, a struggling writer and all-around loser whose life has amounted to diddly-squat, until he stumbles upon a little clear pill which gives him full access to his brain’s higher functions. His life becomes a whirlwind of success and popularity as his new-found capabilities take him to the top of the world, but with such a godsend, what price would he have to pay?

Well, though the price may not be any physical currency, I’ll be giving you my ten cents in any case.

+ The Male Acting

Bradley Cooper is the handsome confident dude, he always carries that in every character he plays, and thus, I wouldn’t really describe him as a guy with acting range.  But that doesn’t mean he’s not good at what he does.  I would say that in this movie, he was better than average, and though he was still that same guy he always is, I will say that he was still able to emote. But his part alone wasn’t what made this movie great in this respect.

Robert De Niro is always awesome. I may not have liked some of his movie choices (Hide and Seek, Showtime, and Rocky and Bullwinkle to name a few), but I’ve always enjoyed his performances, and this time was no different. I won’t say that his performance here is one of his best. In fact, I’d only rank it somewhere  in the middle, but what won me over was actually the dynamic between the two characters.

Before the movie started, between Cooper and De Niro, I had thought that the chemistry wouldn’t work out. By the end of the movie, it was a totally different matter. The moments they were on screen together were interesting, to say the least. I mean, the duo didn’t strike me like a lightning bolt, like Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. It was more like taking sips off of a cool glass of lemonade or milk tea, slow and yet refreshing.

Their representations of the opposite sides of the “talent” vs. experience argument, gave their symbiotic, yet clashing relationship a poetic meaning on top of everything else. The only think I would have to criticize about this movie is that I would have loved more screen time with the two of them together. It would have been much more interesting if De Niro had a longer part in it. If only there were less of the girlfriends and more of the guys, I would have been happier. I loved every scene the two were in together… Well, except for the ending, I’ll get to that in a short while.

+ Effects

The film had great effects. The movie used different color palates in order to help tell the story. When done well, it actually changes the feel of the movie, and gives of a wholly different vibe. Example, The Matrix. I know we all liked the first, but didn’t quite appreciate the two that followed, but one thing I loved about it was the use of the color palates. When they were in the Matrix, the color was a mild, sickly green color, and when in the “real world”, the color was a healthier blue shade, which in general made the very desolate and robotic real world some how feel more comforting and safe, compared to being inside the Matrix, you know, that sort of thing.

They used the color to accentuate the moods of the different locations. Now if only you could use the computers to make it look like these people were good actors

When Eddie first takes the drug, the world brightens up and the colors just bloom and engulf your senses. Compared to the blandness of the pre-“mental enhancement drug” view of the world, the brightness would make the audience think more positively, while the crisp and vibrant color would draw your attention to all the details of what’s going on on-screen. So, in effect the audience feels brighter, and they become more aware of their senses, as things in the background start to stick out. These things happen so quickly in our heads that the associations are almost automatic. So, without even thinking about it, the film is making you feel what Eddie Morra was feeling while high on the drug.

I have a lot of respect for movies that use the visuals in order to show you the psyche of the main character, mainly because it isn’t easy to do. This movie does a decent job, especially in the montages when he seems to be doing everything at once. Rather than doing the typical montage of him doing everything in quick jump cuts, or God For-friggin’-bid the cliché of speeding up time, they showed it as if he had made several clones of himself and they were all dividing up the work.

I can totally picture Jimmy Cliff's "I Can See Clearly Now" playing in the background with this face.

I found it a great way to show how efficient he had become, and while its not totally original, it was a refreshing break from the typical montages.

This movie also did something I’ve never really seen before. At the opening credits, it did the most mind-effing zoom effect I have ever seen. And when I say zoom, I mean ZOOM. Its crazy how that intro zoomed in. Its awesome to an extreme level, but admittedly pretty hard to watch. I always praise movies for doing something I haven’t seen before, whether it works or not, simply because in most Hollywood films, people aren’t lauded much for being that creative and going that far away from standard movie practices.

I mean, I love the science of movies, but what really separates the legendary movies from the great  is the art. I’m not going to go out and say that Limitless is a movie that will be legendary, but any movie that tries new things, like that awesome super zoom, as in a SUPER-ZOOMTASM, deserves props for being ambitious, despite not at all times being pretty.

+ Editing

apart from the after effects, the editing of this movie was great. I loved the pace of it. They knew when to squeeze in the action, and draw out a scene. Limitless didn’t feel too rushed nor did it feel too slow. In fact, you don’t even feel that the movie’s too long, or too short, until about 5-10 minuted before the end. (which I will condend is a problem of writing and plot and not of the editing itself.)

The voice overs were well done too. The monologue was well delivered by Cooper, and it came it during the right points in the movie. The timing was excellent and it really helped to navigate the audience through the movie. Seriously, given the subject matter of Limitless, and the way it was told, it could have been very confusing, but the editing allowed me to follow the move the whole way through, not getting any more lost than the main character was throughout the whole movie.

There are a lot of ways this movie could have gone wrong, but thankfully it didn’t (for the most part). Sadly, the editing wasn’t enough to salvage the movie’s…

-Ending

As you may be able to tell by now, I take issue with the ending of this movie. I really do. The movie ends with something that feels like a completely different story that just doesn’t successfully cap off all the themes and issues brought up in the movie. It suffices to say that the dynamic between Cooper and De Niro, the “talent” vs. years of experience theme I mentioned before, is given a resolution, but in a very poor way.

For one thing, there are so many twists at the end, and they all come in on the last five minutes. Twist, twist, twist, twist. Its like bad cha-cha choreography.  It was the comedian that told one joke too many, or that band that didn’t want to leave the stage after their 3rd encore. Simply put, the movie failed in one aspect for me: “Leave the audience wanting more.” I can’t speak for ALL the Bradley Cooper fan girls out there, though.

If there was one thing this movie sorely needed, it was a better, more relevant ending. I got the vibe from this movie that the screenwriters had like 1 hour before the deadline and no ending. So they took a couple of hits from a joint and typed out the last 5 minutes. Its a shame that this otherwise awesome movie was marred by that ending.

– The Girlfriends

I won’t attack either the acting of Abbie Cornish or Anna Friel, because they didn’t do worse than anyone else. What ticked me off though were their characters. Abbie played Eddie’s girlfriend Lindy. Lindy is an editor for a publication group, and she ends up breaking up with Eddie because his life was falling apart. Then he gets the drug, and she suddenly wants to be with him again. and then she says he’s not authentic and doesn’t want to be with him, and then they get back together, and… well you get the picture. She’s as fickle as the wind, and while that is an established generalization (not always true, but I’m just saying, its there), the problem of the movie is that it doesn’t develop on it. She just can’t make up her mind because… I don’t know. She just can’t. Not a very interesting character there.

Anna Friel, of Pushing Daisies fame, plays Melissa, Eddie‘s ex. She’s there to represent a moral compass and comes in as a character to help steer the Eddie towards the realization that eventually comes from movies like this. Her role is actually pretty important in the movie, as in the ten minutes she’s in the movie, she REALLY drives the plot forward. The thing is though when you get to the ending, it just pisses all over the carcass of her plot line. All the setting up to the big confrontation, when Eddie meets Melissa, it becomes meaningless because of the ending, and that’s kind of a buzz kill for me. She was a wasted talent, I have to say. But despite these things, the movie did give me a good time, which is all that I had hoped for, and a bit more.

My Cent’s Worth: 7.5/10

Limitless isn’t a movie that will live on in your head for many years to come, but it definitely is worth the cinema asking price. If you haven’t seen it, go for it! :D

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Posted on April 9, 2011, in Film Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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