Thought I was writing about Source Code? Well, hilarious story:
I went to go see Source Code with my mummy. She went to go get tickets while I fetched some popcorn and a drink, I go sit down in the theatre and after an hour of trailers the BBFC film card thing comes on.
I turn to her and say “Wait… wa… Source Code?”
She says “Oh. Wait. What”
We didn’t have enough money to go out, and Source Code had already started, so I just wasted my afternoon and watched Limitless.
It was alright.
I got some Hitchcock chills, the cinematography was damn bloody marvellous (especially the opening shot, and how they play around with it throughout the film). I thought the ending was laughable and it lacked a general sense of pace. Overall, it’s a sub-par action film with a high premise that ultimately fails to deliver.
Fails to deliver.
You know, this is something that’s haunted Hollywood everytime it tries to take a bright idea and flesh it out over 2 and a bit hours. Most of the time it fails, but when it works, you get an Inception or a Blade Runner or something that’s intellectually stimulating while at the same time being all visually stimulating. See, idea films tend to require both ingredients in order to fully hit its potential. If it doesn’t then it’s just a throw-away action-packed adventure, it’s still visually interesting and sometimes claws at that delicious premise, but it’s lacking a soul.
Limitless is not a bad movie, it’s a fun movie, but it’s nothing special. I got some Hitchcock chills with how they play around with some visual elements and I haven’t seen this good of cinematography since Inception, dead serious there, the director (Neil Burger) certainly knows his way around both fast food and the camera. The script meanders around the giant idea of being limitless, of accessing your brain’s full potential. From the minute I heard this I thought of giant thematics of power, corruption, playing god etc. I didn’t get that with the film.
The film even ends horribly with little closure and almost an unpunctual lack of decency about its idea. The film could’ve ended with the Greek tragedy being put on full display, since the final act of Greek tragedy is always the one that gives the most impact. However, it instead just reverts to this husk of an Inception, of a little sub-par action film that invited you in with a big idea but just gives you a pat on the head and a Dan Brown novel. It’s like you start a conversation about linguistic science and its effects bleeding into society, then your friend just starts saying “Hey, what does your poop look like?”
It’s not that it’s all a bad thing; I enjoy Dan Brown’s novels and I love discussing faecal matter with my amigos. One of those is a joke, I’ll let you decide, but quite honestly when you’re invited to a fancy dinner, you want something that resembles a fancy dinner. Sure, a McDonalds meal is fun and greasy but it leaves you feeling empty at the end of it, it’s not about learning something or realising some part of yourself had an answer to questions that hadn’t been asked of you… it’s just about courtesy. My expectations of Limitless was that it was going to be an action movie revolving around an idea, not the other way around.
I think I predicted the same thing with Source Code, which I’m seeing Thursday instead after my hilarious story, but it’s quite odd I commented on the ‘Hitchcock vibe’ and some reviewers of Source Code have pointed out the same thing. Two heavy thriller films with high premises were released just this week, maybe I just so happened to see the sub-par one, but it got me wondering on how actually hard it is to pull off one. It requires your audience to be in tune, Inception kicked you into thinking at one point with its foghorn noises. I saw To Kill A Mockingbird (play) recently and about half-way through it they shoot a gun, and it was this giant loud bang that woke everyone up.
These limits need to be broken, on what you expect of your audience, only through this can you ultimately intrigue them. I also wanted to talk about something that happens in the first five minutes, when Cooper’s character is all grimey with his head full of ickyness and a lack of basic hygiene. He comments that he’s like this, not because he’s a junkie, but because he’s a writer. The above image, in the header, is when he takes the drug and starts writing. This is not an average life in the day of Nathan Hardisty, I can tell you that, I can also tell you that drugs are bad and smokers are jokers and not all of us look like a burnt sausage with a wig made out of larvae.
I like Limitless, but I don’t feel enthralled by it beyond its visual panache. It’s one beautiful film and the visual tones they play around with, along with the opening shot they repeat, honestly go a long way to keep me awake. If the script was more heavy and they didn’t expect their audience to get confused at the word “Economics” (they talk about the stock market, with all the foreign vocabulary, at like one-hundred miles per hour) then perhaps this would be something a little special. I don’t see an Inception in here, but I do see something… perhaps a Moon.