REVIEW: LIMITLESS

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Abbie Cornish (Sucker Punch)
Andrew Howard (Bates Motel)
Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies)
Johnny Whitworth (Ghost Rider 2)
Robert John Burke (Robocop 3)

 

Bradley Cooper in Limitless (2011)
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a struggling author suffering from writer’s block, living in New York, is stressed by an approaching deadline. His girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), frustrated with his lack of progress and financial dependence, breaks up with him. Later, Eddie happens to run into Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), the estranged brother of Eddie’s ex-wife, Melissa (Anna Friel). Vernon, involved with a pharmaceutical company, gives Eddie a sample of a new “smart drug”, NZT-48. After taking the pill, Eddie finds himself able to learn and analyze at a superhuman rate and recall memories from his distant past, with the only apparent side effect being a change in the color of Eddie’s irises while on the drug—his eyes becoming an intense shade of electric blue. Under the influence, he cleans his messy apartment and writes ninety pages of his book. The next day, the effects having worn off, he seeks out Vernon in an attempt to get more. While Eddie is out running an errand, Vernon is murdered. Eddie returns, calls the police and then discovers Vernon’s NZT stash just before they arrive, taking it for himself. After giving a statement at the precinct, Eddie returns home and begins ingesting the drug daily. With the help of the drug’s amazing effects, Eddie spends a few weeks cleaning up his life—finishing his book, getting fit, and making friends with a group of young jet-setters, who take him on vacation to Europe, where he mingles with the rich. During all this, Eddie tests out his enhanced learning abilities; he becomes a proficient piano player in just three days, as well as becoming fluent in several languages.
Testing his analytical skills on the stock market, Eddie quickly makes large returns on small investments. Realizing he requires more capital, he borrows one hundred thousand dollars from a Russian loan shark, Gennady (Andrew Howard), and successfully makes a return of two million dollars. He increases his NZT dosage and begins to rekindle his relationship with Lindy.
Eddie’s prodigious success leads to a meeting with a finance tycoon, Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who as a test asks Eddie to advise him on a merger with Hank Atwood’s (Richard Bekins) company. Walking through Manhattan after the meeting, Eddie starts experiencing hallucinations and the sense of time skipping forward, noticing that several hours have suddenly passed of which he has no memory. As this effect recurs over the course of the day and night he finds himself at a nightclub, a hotel party, in a hotel room with a blonde woman (Caroline Winberg), and in a subway station where he easily subdues several muggers who attack him (thanks to the effects of NZT). When this series of blackouts finally ends, he finds himself standing on the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn, 18 hours having passed that he cannot account for. He slowly limps home. Later, Eddie sees a news report detailing the murder of the blonde woman whom he had presumably slept with, but he is unable to remember whether or not he was the killer.
Eddie meets with Melissa and discovers that she too had been on NZT. She informs him that when she attempted to stop taking it, she had experienced a severe mental rebound effect, as well as a limp like Eddie, and that there are several people who have died after stopping dosing. On his way home, Eddie is accosted by Gennady, who takes Eddie’s last NZT pill. Eddie visits Lindy and asks her to retrieve his backup stash, which he had hidden in her apartment. On her way back, she is followed by a man (Tomas Arana) who’d been stalking Eddie. He corners Lindy in a park and kills two random guys who try to protect her. Eddie tells her to take an NZT pill. The pill enables her to escape and she returns the stash to Eddie.
Eddie experiments with the drug and learns to control his dosage, sleep schedule and food intake to prevent side effects. He continues to earn money on the stock exchange and hires bodyguards to protect him from Gennady, who threatens him in an attempt to obtain more NZT. He buys an armored penthouse and hires a laboratory in an attempt to reverse engineer NZT. For his part in Carl Van Loon’s merger, Eddie is promised forty million dollars, and he hires an attorney (Ned Eisenberg) to help keep the police from investigating the deaths of both Vernon and the woman.
On the day of the merger, Atwood’s wife informs Van Loon that he has fallen into a coma. Eddie recognizes Atwood’s driver as his stalker. While Eddie participates in a lineup, his attorney steals Eddie’s whole supply of NZT from his jacket. Soon afterwards, Eddie discovers that his pills are gone and begins to enter withdrawal. He also learns that his bodyguards have been killed. But the severe effects of withdrawal cause him to hurry home when Van Loon questions him about his knowledge relating to Atwood’s coma. Gennady breaks into his apartment, demanding more NZT. He reveals that to increase the effect’s potency and duration he has been dissolving it in water and injecting it. Eddie stabs Gennady and licks up some of his pooling blood for the NZT it now contains. His increased mental acuity restored, Eddie kills Gennady’s henchmen and escapes. He meets with his stalker, surmising that Atwood employed the man to locate more NZT. The two join forces and recover Eddie’s stash from his attorney (who did not pass the NZT to his client).
A year later, Eddie has retained his wealth, his book (entitled The Dark Fields, the name of the book on which the movie is based) has been released, and he is running for the United States Senate. Van Loon visits him and reveals that he has absorbed the company that produced NZT and shut down Eddie’s laboratory. He offers a steady supply of the drug in return for power when Eddie eventually and inevitably becomes President of the United States. Eddie implies that he has had multiple laboratories working on NZT for the purposes of reverse engineering it, as well as being able to eliminate all of the negative side-effects. He states that he has found a way to wean himself completely off of the drug without losing any of his enhanced abilities. He turns down Van Loon and sends him on his way. He meets Lindy at a Chinese restaurant for lunch, where his Chinese language skills with the waiter invite skepticism from Lindy as to whether he is actually off of the drug
Limitless has such a breathtaking pace that you aren’t going to find the time needed to nitpick. Some of the action at movie’s end is resolved with little plausibility, but it’s too much fun to attack. At least the title of Limitless offers some truth in advertising.

REVIEW: SUCKER PUNCH

 

CAST

Emily Browning (Sleeping Beauty)
Abbie Cornish (Limitless)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers)
Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Jon Hamm (Mad men)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Monique Ganderton (Smallville)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Chrstine Willes (Dead Like Me)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Gerard Plunkett (Travelers)
A.C. Peterson (Shooter)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)

 

Like many men, when I saw the trailers appear for the film a number of things caught my eye immediately. First and foremost was the cast of hot scantily clad young women with cool sounding names like Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber, and Blondie. The next thing noticed was that it seemed to blend fantasy with a lot of ridiculously over the top action that involved zombie Nazis, fire-breathing dragons, robot samurai, and other entirely bizarre and irrational things that would surely only come out of the imagination of a weirdo who has a strong affection for anime, video games, and everything else considered genuinely bizarre: this was not the kind of thing I expected to see for a big-budget spectacle showpiece. The end result was that Sucker Punch ultimately looked to me like something that would only appeal to young men looking for thrills or pop-culture junkies. It seemed like it would have plenty of pretty images and little substance whatsoever. What could possibly be worthwhile about the film beyond some mere thrills.MV5BODk0MDI3NDI5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzc2MjA3NA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,825_AL_Sucker Punch begins with what essentially adds up to being a music video stylized opening that aims to bring audiences into the start of the story. Prepare to see a lot of this throughout the entire experience. I actually embraced it because it’s in part the kind of thing I always felt Snyder should be doing: making music videos or commercials. By placing an emphasis on the music and striking imagery I felt allowed to have a visceral experience that actually grabbed on to me and wouldn’t let me go. We discover early on that the girl we would soon know as Baby Doll (Emily Browning) was being sent to a mental institution by her stepfather. It’s no fault of her own mental health – she witnesses the murder of her younger sister who I presumed was also raped beforehand. The stepfather doesn’t stop there as he tries to rape and murder them both, and when Baby Doll fights back he somehow arranges it so that they believe the murder of her sister was why she was being committed into the mental institution in the first place.MV5BMTg1MjM1ODk3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTc2MjA3NA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,828_AL_Upon entering the mental institution Baby Doll enters a fantasy-world she creates where the storyline of Sucker Punch allows her to enter a dream within another dream state of mind (and this really made me wonder if this had anything to do with why Christopher Nolan picked Snyder for the Superman reboot). She visualizes the mental intuition as actually being a dance hall – but the truth of the fantasy is that the director of the asylum, Blue (Oscar Isaac), is really trying to prostitute the girls out to clients in his role as the owner of the dance hall. The doctor of the mental institution, Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), is now seen as the dance instructor and every time one of the characters ‘dances’ they are actually entering a deeper fantasy world where all of the crazy video-game/anime like qualities truly step in to play (such as the dragons and robots – oh my!). The dancing in the film is never visualized in the way most men probably want or expect – there isn’t a lot of ‘sexy moves’ on display in these moments and to my disappointment I have heard some complaints about this as a detractor. The dances in this movie are not ordinary dances at all but are in fact moments when Baby Doll enters her deeper fantasy state.MV5BMjA1MzYxNDUwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDY2MjA3NA@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,829_AL_Baby Doll has met the other girls Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jamie Chung), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens). Eventually, the girls team up in each of these sequences. During the first ‘deep dream’ sequence Baby Doll encounters a seemingly wise old man (Scott Glenn) while alone. He informs her that in order to become free she must collect five items: a map, knife, fire, key, and another item that she must discover on her own. He also gives her a handgun and sword that can be used while inside her dream world. Over the course of the story, Baby Doll convinces the other girls that following this plan of action is the only way for them to escape. Some of the girls are on board with the idea while others (mainly Sweet Pea) seem against it.MV5BMTM0NjM2MjgxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDc3ODIxNA@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_I realized at some point that there began to be a correlation between the first layer of the fantasy world and the second one. Actions taking place within the dream-world fantasy affected the other. Characters died unexpectedly and the result was their death and removal from both of the fantasy plot-lines taking place. Towards the end of the film the items gathered are used for the last surviving girls to escape and they are used in the film . In concluding the story, Baby Doll realizes that the fifth thing needed for her to escape was simply her, and then she helps one of the other girls to find freedom while she stays behind. Upon entering into the reality of the situation – in the mental hospital – we find that Baby Doll is about to have a lobotomy. Dr. Gorski enters the room and talks to the man performing the lobotomy (Jon Hamm). She questions why such a thing is happening, and soon realizes that a forgery was done of her signature for someone to make the lobotomy occur. Yet it was already far too late as the operation had just been completed.Baby Doll is led away by some guards to a room where Blue awaits her. He tells her that he can now do anything with her that he wants to do. The guards seem reluctant; saying something about being sick of letting him do what he wants to these girls. Dr. Gorski breaks into the room and stops whatever was about to happen. In a scene that appears as an epilogue thereafter, we see the lone girl who escaped get onto a bus with the same old man from Baby Dolls dream world as the driver.The audience just got sucker punched. The conversation held between Dr. Gorski and the man performing the lobotomy revealed that Baby Doll had actually done some of the things the audience witnessed in the fantasy world she created. In other words, the film blends reality and fantasy in a way that makes it hard to state what moments were real and what moments weren’t. Some will call this a cop out. I actually disagree for once. It had my own imagination going rather wild.