Pink Fire Pointer Limiting Limitless ..

Limiting Limitless ..

Limitless    3.2 / 5

[your rating for the movie]

   'Limiting' in the titular phrase is adverbial and not a verb. The movie seems to be self-limiting, not in the sense of a course correction but that of a restriction. The movie shows you a delicious dessert but will let you take only 20% of it. Call me obsessed but Nolan would have had a field day with this plot and kept us at the edge of our seats, breathless. It's just his kind of a story.

Burger (left) & Bradley (the other left)
  Maybe I'm not too far off the mark. Neil Burger is evidently a good film-maker and he seems to have often chosen Nolan-ish stories in his very brief career yet. Illusionist (which was beautiful) was released the same year as 'The Prestige' in 2006, directed by him. Both are about magicians and the relation of science/logic to it and the love of a woman. I'm over-simplifying ofcourse, but it's just like a Hollywood conspiracy of releasing competing films in every genre; eg. Dante's Peak &  Volcano, Deep Impact & Armageddon, Knowing & 2012 etc., etc. Thankfully both (Prestige and Illusionist) were excellent.

  Anywhoo..  Limitless opens 'scintillatingly'. It's not often that I get to use such a word speaking of either a movie or a shot. Burger (let's call him that - more fun that way) takes us on a brilliantly composed and yes, 'scintillating' roller-coaster of a shot that starts from the edge of a ledge of a high-rise that Eddie Morra (our hero Brad Cooper) is teetering upon. It has to be seen to be believed. 

  I am an immense fan of innovative camera techniques or visual effects that either serve the story or simply immerse us in an experience. The telescoping, zooming, virtual-tracking wonder of a shot dropping us from the high rise, through NY streets, cabs, people, human brain, the edge of atmosphere looking down upon the Manhattan, ending with an incredible finish, does both. I know what you're thinking - it's just an extended shot of a 'virtual motion control thing' that we've seen in various films since The Matrix or Panic Room. Oh no, it's so much more. It's the equivalent of the Hitchcockian 'Vertigo effect' or the contra-zoom.  Burger calls it the 'Fractal Zoom'. Love the name! He conceived and termed it.
(  curious like me? go >  )

   From thereon, the movie goes at a steady pace. Morra is a witless writer. His only achievements in life thus far are a successful divorce and a very sexy, cute, current girlfriend (who's breaking up with him even as she's being introduced). Sic! He bumps into his ex's younger brother (the guy can catch no breaks) and is pulled into a conversation at a bar in the middle of the day. He gets a Macguffin(google it) drug that will unlock the 80% of the brain that he or any other homosapien doesn't use yet. Seems to me Morra isn't using his available 20%.

  Against his better judgment, if any, he takes it. Else no movie. The story then moves like 'A Beautiful Mind' immersed in 'Wall Street', with the intensity of neither. His current-ex-girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) becomes current. Robert De Niro as 'The' venture capitalist, isn't developed much. An annoying mafia-loan-shark who's only purpose in the movie seems to be to show us why Morra ends up at the edge of the ledge in the opening shot. Something interesting develops in the transition between first and second acts. First - our hero on brain-steroids meets his ex and finds she's prematurely aged and brain damaged due to the usage of this Macguffin tablet. Now you know why Morra didn't even use 0.01% percent of his brain before accepting an untested, 'enhancement' drug from his ex-brother-in-law. There's a definite rich conflict here but the script-er Leslie Dixon makes poor use of this and takes the ex-bro-in-law out! Nor do we find out who took him out or why.

  Second - Brad Cooper gets on Hangover part-1.5 from the heavy usage of the drug and can't account for 18 hours. He may have committed a murder at a hotel. Something is cooking in the plot.. but no! The movie-makers totally skate around it. We never find out enough. Maybe Burger and co., were on the same brain-drug and forgot developing these two key conflicts in the script! 

  From then on, the movie scoots purely on Burger's good visual style, Jo Willems' cool photography and that's it. The eagerly anticipated De Niro's role is just a glorified cameo. Hmpf! Imagine the possibilities of the premise! If only Burger had 'dared' to go with the idea and the story's consequences and implications. I was doubly disappointed, later learning that Burger directed Illusionist. At the end, the story doesn't arrive at a logical point nor an intuitive one. Although, given the poor journey of the script it ends as well as it could.

  The performances are the second thing after good photography that make viewing bearable. Bradley is a handsome versatile actor, an upcoming star and does quite well with this 20%-plotted script. Abbie Cornish as the girlfriend, is a dream and the kind you want to let your parents meet (figuratively :P). In a word, does one take the effort to watch it in a Cinema? Yes, if you are a fan of photography or want to pass your time with an okay flick. To me, the two 'fractal zoom' sequences were worth the 120 Rs. I paid (parking extra). They burst upon my conscious like Micheal's first two moonwalks at Motown Record's Anniversary celebration. 
  Limitless, is sadly less.