Dir: Neil Burger • WRI: Leslie Dixon • PRO: Leslie Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh, Scott Kroopf • DOP: Jo Willems • ED: Tracy Adams Naomi Geraghty • DES: Patrizia von Brandenstein • CAST: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish

Limitless, based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, imagines a kind of mind that’s perfectly designed to thrive in the modern world. A kind of mind that can actually process all of the information we’re presented with in our everyday lives. Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) becomes the owner-occupant of this mind when he takes a drug called NZT which enables him to access the untapped potential of his brain. The result is an ability to receive and understand vast amounts of information almost instantaneously. A struggling writer, Eddie on NZT finishes his book in a matter of days and then makes a fortune on the stock market before it’s even published.

The subject material is, in many, ways perfect for cinema. A director like Edgar Wright would have made a fantastic film. The combination of sound and imagery, quick fire editing and graphics, all intelligently applied, would have done a terrific job conveying the ceaseless synaptic fire in Eddie’s brain. Not to mention cranking up the tension on what should have been a terrifying series of blackouts that Eddie experiences as a side effect of the drug. But Neil Burger is not the man for the job. He’s going for a similar effect with a lot of graphics popping up on screen, but he uses these techniques injudiciously (giving us an X-Ray image of Eddie swallowing the first pill just seems silly) so it dilutes the impact they should have had when used at more suitable moments.

Like all high concept sci-fi thrillers the central premise is not without its flaws. (As anyone who has actually taken a class in kung-fu, dance, or music will tell you, knowing what to do and getting your body to do it are two very different things.) The problem for Limitless is that these flaws will occur to you while you’re watching the film and not twenty minutes after you’ve left like they’re supposed to. The film fails as a thriller too simply because having a man come round every now and again to chase the main character and his girlfriend for a bit does not automatically make a film into a thriller. It soon becomes clear that this story line has nowhere to go and the escape plans that their NZT fuelled brains come up with are ridiculous.

Without this key element the movie grinds to a halt half way through and it offers us instead a series of montages on the glamourous lives of America’s super-rich, ignoring the real dramatic potential of the secret behind Eddie’s success. Eddie has NZT, but what dark pacts have these people around him made for their success? In fact one of the best scenes in the movie comes near the end when the Wall Street giant Carl van Loon (Robert De Niro) tells Eddie exactly what it takes to make it in this world. It’s the only time De Niro comes alive in the role and the only time the film touches on something truly dark. It’s a pity then that this too is undermined by the weak ending.

A very disappointing movie.

Geoff McEvoy

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
is released on 25th March 2011

Limitless – Official Website


The A-Team

The A-Team

DIR: Joe Carnahan • WRI: Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Woods • PRO: Stephen J. Cannell, Jules Daly, Tony Scott, Spike Seldin, Iain Smith, Alex Young • DOP: Mauro Fiore • ED: Roger Barton, Jim May • DES: Charles Wood • CAST: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson

This is a sprawling mess of a movie obviously mashed together by dazed troglodytes under a bridge. What’s the point of it all? Surely there are better ideas for the action movie genre than merely rehashing an old TV series. And why does the fact that working with an established set of characters make it acceptable to produce a script that has all the imagination of a pig’s trough?

The A-Team tells the story of 4 lovable mercenary rogues who are trying to clear their names after being wrongfully imprisoned of stuff. The ’80s TV characters are brought to a cinema screen near you by 4 lovable rogues who are now trying to clear their names after being wrongfully attached to this pointless nonsense. Liam Neeson plays George Peppard’s Hannibal (Colonel) taking every opportunity to tell us that he derives much pleasure from the completion of a plan. Mr T’s BA Baracus (Lieutenant) is played by Quinton Jackson who has no time for dullards. Bradley Cooper is Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck (Lieutenant) wooing ladies with his leery grin and coiffed thatch, and Dwight Schultz’s endearing non compos ‘Howling Mad’ Murdoch (lunatic pilot) is played by Sharlto Copley repeatedly demonstrating the fact that he’s several pages short of a script. Once these lovable rogues have established themselves as the A-Team, they are allowed to get on with the matter in hand; that being lepping about the shop roaring at each other and waving a variety of ammunition at baddies.

There’s really nothing to say about the performances in the film except that poor Neeson looks like he’s completely lost after taking a wrong turn and found himself in the cooking pot of a hungry native tribe. All the characters merely exist to facilitate the crash, bang, wallops of the action scenes, interspersed with some ridiculous dialogue. Manure shovellor/director Joe Carnahan serves up such sequences in the manner of prison slop, incessantly throwing them with neither thought nor care at the screen. The film hasn’t got the brains to be an ironic pastiche of the’80s TV series and hasn’t got the guts to breathe any sort of new life into it. The A-Team is spineless filmmaking bereft of ideas. The pedestrian action sequences, bad CGI and poor editing coupled with the puerile dialogue and ridiculous plot (not to mention BA’s anti-Ghandi subplot) make for one of the most irritating cinema experiences this year.

I can’t wait for the film version of Simon & Simon.

So rather than waste your money going to see The A Team, why not get your hands on the boxset of the original series – hell, even Boy George pops up in one episode. Now repeat after me: ‘In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.’

Steven Galvin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The A-Team
is released on 30th July 2010

The A-Team Official Website