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Limitless: Unspectacular yet Enjoyable Thriller
As a writer, Eddie Morra (Cooper), has everything; looks, ambition and talent. Unfortunately, they're all wasted in his world of personal defeat. Slowly, his life is going down the drain, until he accidentally bumps into his ex's brother-in-law Vernon (Whitworth), who offers him a promising yet mysterious pill that could the kick-start of what is left of his talent. Unwillingly at first, Eddie decides that it's worth the chance and takes it, only to find that he’s transformed into a genius. So after achieving so much with only one pill, he naturally ask Vernon for more.
With his career and lifestyle on the up, Eddie's ex-girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) is back in the picture, not knowing that his sudden change of character and success are due to this mysterious drug. However, unforeseen circumstances lead Eddie into a darker world where he has to deal with a deadly Russian loan shark, his sinister new boss (De Niro), and his wary girlfriend. Eddie must now find a way to save his own skin, with or without the pills.
Based on the novel by Alan Glynn, many will find Limitless an innovative film, though fans of the book may find it disappointing. The plot is intriguing and is difficult to criticise as the book’s bestselling status has proven its successful formula. However, the film fails to deliver the suspense and intensity portrayed in the novel.
Limitless starts out solid, with a narrated introduction by Cooper, some very well-produced visuals, and an attention-demanding plot approaches. The highlighted scenes of the film, of course, are the ones that are shown after each pill is swallowed; where we're exposed to another level of story-telling.
After starring in a string of successful films, Cooper is now one of Hollywood's biggest names. In Limitless, he tries a more dramatic approach that seems to be just as suitable as his more common comedy or action roles. It’s interesting to see his performance as a serious actor, sharing on-screen time with the legendary De Niro. Although De Niro’s appearance is brief, he gives a typical powerhouse performance. Cornish is a nice addition to the cast, offering a matured and warm performance as the wary love interest.
There's no doubt that Limitless is an enjoyable ride, but those seeking an edgy thriller should probably lower their expectations. The film brilliantly tackles the experience of swallowing the mystery pill; where the concept of fantasy meeting reality is executed creatively and colourfully. But when the film's stars are sober, the film loses its pace and edge. However, the ending is unexpected and will definitely jolt you out of any doubts about the plot.
Harrelson has a starry supporting cast backing him up made up of the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Ben Foster and Robin Wright Penn. Brie Larson plays Dave’s daughter Helen, and after him, she’s the best thing about the film. The relationship between the two runs on hate and scorn mixed with a twisted kind of love. It brings to mind the saying about how blood is thicker than water. How you can hate a family member so much and see them for the worthless scum that they are, yet still allow their opinions and words to affect you. It’s a toxic relationship, one of many in the film, yet it packs a punch that the others don’t.
The story is occasionally difficult to keep track of as it jumps abruptly from one topic to another, but Dave’s internal conflict is more compelling than anything the story throws at you. Dave and Helen’s scenes together are far more powerful and infinitely more interesting than any of the scenes in which he brandishes a gun or kicks a guy to a bloody pulp. The film has some fine camera work; it forgoes flashiness just for the sake of it and instead focuses on bringing the viewer in closer to the actors. It works with the actors to set the scenes’ mood instead of just framing them.
One of the few criticisms of District 9 is when director Neil Blomkamp moves from documentary style handy-cam in the initial half of the film to full-on “regular” shooting in an almost imperceptible transition, for reasons that remain unclear.
Wikus Van De Merwe, played by first-time actor Sharlto Copley, is the man in charge of the eviction process and heads to the dangerous District 9 refugee camp to inform the aliens of the forced move. The officer is met with resistance, and is clear his other directive is to search out and destroy weapon caches the aliens have been stockpiling.
The film truly picks up when Merwe passes out and is rushed to a hospital, where it’s discovered he is becoming an alien after coming into contact with a mysterious alien substance. The transformation from human to alien takes the course of 80 hours throughout which he suffers estrangement from his friends, family and co-workers, who are doing everything in their power to get him back into custody.
Blomkamp formulates a film that is both science fiction and an allegory for the way humanity ostracizes and alienates “others.” District 9 is a film that will leave you on the edge of your seat as Merwe is forced to make tough decisions and in doing so, discovers a way to return to the humanity his former life was unable to give him.
The story isn’t complete, leading to the question: is there a sequel? Who knows? Maybe a District 10 is in the works, when the aliens return to Earth in order to free their fellow brethren.