Tag Archives: thriller

Review – Limitless (12a) [2011]

Star Rating: 3.5/5

It is believed that human beings only use ten to twenty-five per cent of their brainpower most of the time. After hearing this, it is natural for people to contemplate what they might be able to achieve if they could access a hundred per cent of their mind’s capabilities. Well, Limitless gives us a hint of what it could be like and it makes for pleasant viewing.

Eddie Morra, left, looking down and out, is offered the 'limitless pill' by his ex-wife's brother.

The movie is centred on Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper – He’s Just Not That Into You, The Hangover, The A-Team), a messy and disorganized ‘wannabe’ author who has yet to write a word of his novel. His partner, Lily (Abbie Cornish – Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Sucker Punch), has just left him because she sees no future with him.

With his life going nowhere, Eddie bumps into his ex-wife’s brother, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth – Valentine, 3:10 To Yuma, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). After buying him a bear in the middle of the day, Vernon offers Eddie a pill that will revitalise him. Reluctantly, Eddie swallows it giving him the clarity of thought and energy that he has lacked his whole life. With this pill, no worldly ambition is beyond him. The problem for Eddie is what happens when his supply runs out and what will others do to have his key to success.

The plot for Limitless is simple to follow, entertaining and strokes one’s ego nicely.

It is not an especially thought-provoking film and several of the side-stories are dropped before they’ve been concluded. This naturally leaves a few things unanswered by the end; but as they are not major parts to the movie, it is easy for viewers to forget that these scenes even took place.

Moreover, things go so well for Eddie that one cannot help but remind oneself that life is full of ups and downs; not just ups. Limitless also doesn’t give much attention to the negative effects of taking the ‘limitless pill’ or drugs unlike, for example, Requiem For A Dream. This is a pity as it would have added a dimension to the film that is sorely lacking.

Since it does not tackle the more serious side of drug addiction, the characters do not have depth. This is a shame; especially for Bradley Cooper. He plays well as a low-life loser and a high-flying, smooth-talking, money making machine. It would have been interesting to see how he would have faired if he’d have been given the opportunity to show us the downside of taking this drug.

Eddie, looking happy with how life has panned out for him since taking the pill, being intimate with his girlfriend, Lily, played by Abbie Cornish.

No other character in the film is given enough time or the script to stamp their mark. In effect, Abbie Cornish, Robert de Niro (Goodfellas, Stardust, Meet The Parents) and Andrew Howard (Transformers II: Rise of the Fallen, Revolver, I Spit On Your Grave) are little more than mere diversions to the story of Eddie Morra’s meteoric rise. This though does not take away much from the film. It is unlikely that they’d have made a significant difference to the movie if they’d have been given more of a role.

The acting on the whole is better than the choreography. The director, Neil Burger (The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones), has not shot the film brilliantly. Some of the scenes are quite dizzying, whilst others do not flow well together. Although this can be disorientating for the audience at times, it does not make the movie hard to watch or undermine its entertainment value.

Ultimately, Limitless is an enjoyable film that enables viewers to switch off as they watch it. It is not a masterpiece and has a handful of minor flaws. Nevertheless, it leaves its audience satisfied, plus makes them think in jest what they could be like if they were able to use their mind to its full potential.

PG’s Tips

Review – The Lincoln Lawyer (15) [2011]

Star Rating: 4/5

There have not been many legal-thrillers made in recent years. The Reader and The Social Network are two that spring to mind. The Lincoln Lawyer is not, over-all, as good as those two films, but it certainly gives one value for money.

The Lincoln Lawyer is based on the book by Michael Connelly. It is about a smooth-talking, alcoholic defence lawyer, Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey – Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, The Wolf of Wall Street), whose job is to keep criminals on the street. He’s quite good at it too – and knows it – which is why Lewis (Ryan Phillippe – Cruel Intentions, Breach, Flags of our Fathers), a thirty-two year old man from a wealthy family, demands that Mick represent him. Lewis has been charged with violent assault and rape against a prostitute; although, Lewis is adamant that he has been set up. Yet, no sooner does Mick agree to represent Lewis when things begin to get murky and twisted.

The prostitute giving Lewis her address, before he allegedly beats her up and rapes her at knife-point.

For a film that is dominated by courtrooms and legal technicalities, The Lincoln Lawyer is surprisingly interesting even to those who care little for the law. The plot is gripping and relatively simple to follow, provided the viewer is concentrating. At times, one may wonder which law-case Mick is referring to. The storyline also has a couple of flaws and things always seem to work out coincidentally well for Mick (as they tend to do for main characters in films), but not to the extent that the movie becomes ridiculous by any stretch of the imagination.

The plot is aided by very good choreography and a dialogue that is generally well-written. The director, Brad Furman (The Take), and the script-writer, John Romano (Intolerable Cruelty, Prodigy), have certainly done their homework and appear to have quite a solid knowledge of American federal law as well as Californian state law. (I do not know enough about such matters to be able to pass a proper judgement. I can only get a feel for the American legal system based on what has been said throughout the film.) There are a handful of sensationalist lines that obviously would not be said in a real court; yet, this does not take too much away from the script’s over-all quality.

Mick representing Lewis in court.

The script’s main beneficiary is Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey plays very well as a conceited barrister. (One should be aware that a common theme in movies is to make the main character look good by placing him/her next to or against weaker actors. In The Lincoln Lawyer, particularly in the courtroom scenes, McConaughey comes up against a less competent barrister than himself. The director also gives McConaughey the last word in the vast majority of the scenes, which makes him stand out more than he should.) Although McConaughey’s performance is not quite worthy of an Oscar nomination due to a lack of depth in Mick’s character; he illustrates that he is versatile and far from doomed to solely play hopeless-romantic roles like the one he did in How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days.

Without a doubt, McConaughey outshines Ryan Phillippe, the main supporting actor in The Lincoln Lawyer. Philippe does an alright and competent job; but has not really enhanced his reputation as an actor much here. Just like in Cruel Intentions, he plays here a spoilt rich kid needing to get his way. In all of his films, including Breach (wherein he plays a spy), Philippe conveys the same passion. In addition, he has the same scrunched-up facial expression that does him no favours. In Philippe’s defence, one can argue that he is not given the tools or the time to express himself in order to make the audience empathise with Lewis’ situation. But this is not a convincing argument; especially considering that Melissa Leo won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress after having less time on the screen in The Fighter than Phillippe did here.

All-in-all, The Lincoln Lawyer is certainly worth watching. It is entertaining and, seemingly, portrays the American legal world quite accurately; despite being a little theatrical on occasions. Indeed, by the end one should leave the movie feeling very satisfied.

PG’s Tips