Come away from watching Limitless and I dare you not to ask yourself was this an advertorial for “Existentialism in a Bottle”?! When I was first asked to review this new DVD featuring Mr Charming himself, Bradley Cooper, I looked at the published details and was surprised to see it was only 100 min long. Not enough time for character development I thought, so I was only expecting a surface level storyline. At the end of the DVD I was surprised how time had truly stood still in what was a cinematic feast. Let me walk you through it.
While Bradley Cooper is the kind of good looking guy that average blokes want to hit in the face, his performance brought shadows of conflict to the surface of his character, copywriter and stumped novelist, Eddie Morra. At first you’ll expect more of the ‘Facetime’ he brought to the A-Team, but the character’s narrative quickly takes you into a more bewildered state. In the midst of a ‘writing block’ his cry for help leads him to succumb to temptation taking an untested medication and here the roller coaster begins. Cooper will always lead the camera with his Paul Newmanesque eyes and good looks but in this movie he will still keep you guessing on his character’s moral direction as he assesses ambition over consequences.
For you and I as we see all around us the challenges of life, we’re often left breathless, craving the superhero edge. When it comes to power we all want what God has, the power of omnipotence, the ‘be where I wanna be’ omnipresence and of course the ‘think ahead’, ‘know your enemy’, omniscience. Its this last powerplay that draws our character in to its grasp as the pill he takes opens up the untapped potential of his brain to think ahead, assess, calculate and ultimately control his destiny by decisions. He can out-think and outplay his opponents but can he outlast them?
Taking an art gallery sojourn from the plot for a moment, Limitless is a credit to the art and cinematic direction. On more than one occasion I felt I’d taken a step inside the head of M. C. Escher the tessalation artist who made water romp up stairs. This combined with moments where our characters are thinking outside of themselves constructed Salvador Dali type sets as matter bent around time and space. If this is inline with Director, Neil Burger’s visual concept then kudos! It was this unique photography combined with the pacing on film that kept the rhythm of the movie vibrant. Moments of chaos, punctuated with dream in motion pausing was superb. The opening sequence is not to be missed and to that end you would decry your own priorities if you run late and miss the setting of the stage.
If there was a downside to the film it was that some of the side characters weren’t as embedded into the storyline as you would hope. The Russian Mobster, the Blonde Moll, the Corporate Lawyer and the Hitman seemed like after thoughts rather than threads of the tapestry. Even the token screen time afforded to Robert DeNiro didn’t indicate it was a role worth his skill and more of the cameo of all cameos in the scope of the film. Abbie Cornish for the most part handles the supportive yet unsure girlfriend role well. Only one small portion of the film tests her to a greater depth of believability and this is handled superbly.
So, how does the DVD rate? You won’t be laughing with Bradley Cooper on this journey. Like Eddie Morra’s girl, you’ll ask your own moral questions regarding the balance of payments when taking drugs for power and its a roller coaster film with one more loop than you saw when you got on the ride. For eclectic content, its sublime, a dynamic backdrop to a storyline that keeps you guessing the answer to the question; “What would I do in Bradley’s shoes?”
Reviewed by: Andrew Pitchford