Release Date: 2011
Director: Neil Burger
Why I picked this: A surprising number of people have asked me if I’ve seen it
It has a great concept, great visuals, but it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. It begins with one of the most creative title sequences I’ve ever seen in any movie, and the first half is full of energy and good ideas. Eddie Mora, played by Bradley Cooper, who I think is a pretty good leading man, is a struggling writer, dumped by his girlfriend Lindy, played by Abbie Cornish. He has a chance encounter with his ex-wife’s brother, a drug dealer, who gives Eddie a pill called NZT-48, which supposedly gives the user full access of their brain’s capacity. Initially, Eddie enjoys using it, clearing and focusing his mind and becoming successful with his writings and various investments. I enjoyed the change in cinematography whenever Eddie would use the pill, with colors becoming brighter and using a clever use of visual effects. Whenever Eddie would be off the pill and would be feeling side effects, the film looks darker and murkier. Story-wise, I have to admit that I was a bit confused at the side effects of using the pill and coming off of it. Eddie eventually starts digging himself into a hole, becoming too big and going through drastic measures, such as taking a loan from a violent loan-shark. Eddie also becomes a trustee to a powerful business man, Carl von Loon, played by Robert de Niro. Eddie and von Loon have an interesting relationship, but I sometimes questioned why von Loon trusted Eddie’s advice at times when he lets him down on multiple occasions. The second half is where I began enjoying the movie less. A lot of the plot details become muddled by the end; there were some minor characters whose motivations or roles I didn’t understand, and there were little things where I was unsure to pay attention to or not. The movie starts to lose its energy. I never cared once about Lindy and I wish Robert de Niro was given more to do. I found the film’s “climax” to be very unexciting, and the resolution, while thought-provoking, wasn’t so enough to make the entire experience memorable. However, I still appreciate the movie for its visuals and ideas.
There are some great ideas that appear to reach its potential in the first half, but the movie falters in terms of plot near the end. Still, there are unique visuals that are worthy of praise.