Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Limitless": a writer finds that a pill is not the way to "powers"

“Writer’s block” provides fodder for a lot of movies.  So does the idea of having “powers” and not having to “pay your dues” or compete the way other people have to. Such is the case in Rogue/Relativity’s latest “B Movie”, “Limitless”, directed by Neil Burger, based on Alan Glynn’s novel.

A sapphire-eyed and summery Bradley Cooper plays the writer Eddie Morra, who’s about to get thrown out of his walkup in the East Village with no money. Oh, he has an advance, but his editor is none too impressed. The movie brushes off the writing issues, to get into its Faustian interest in a “superman” potion and in financial derivatives.  One day he runs into a “brother in law” who introduces him to a “legal” (almost) IQ-boosting pill with the additive powers of meth or crack. The “substance” does enable one to use all of the capacity in his brain, to learn motor skills and languages as well as just process intellectual information. But then if you run out, you know what happens.

I thought about “Social Network”, whose protagonist did not need a pill to be brilliant. I wondered how Jessie Eisenberg, Mark Zuckerberg himself (who doesn’t need to act beyond SNL, where he was pretty good), or perhaps Jason Ritter (who plays a similar character Sean in the NBC series “The Event”), or even Matt Damon (“Adjustment Bureau”) would have acted the role.

The movie becomes a bit of a sci-fi gimmick, with its own style of special effects of tunneling through New York City.

At one point, Eddie faces a certain paradox: despite his brilliance, his short term memory and grip on reality are not reliable, and he has to deal with the possibility he could have murdered a young woman in an apartment when a news story comes on the air during a business meeting.

Robert De Niro makes his comeback with a role as a business tycoon, a kind of Donald Trump who thinks that losing really hurts.

The website for the film is here

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