Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, an uninspired and broke science fiction author. When he runs into an old friend that is now selling a brand new street drug that enhances mental performance, his life takes a turn (for better or for worse, that’s up to you to decide).
What works? Bradley Cooper does the same old thing he always does, but he pulls it off. For 90% of the movie, he’s the smooth-talking and charismatic guy we’ve always seen. The part that impressed me was the first 10% of the movie, where he pulls off a pretty convincing opposite of that.
Most people won’t see this movie because of Bradley Cooper, though. They’ll see this movie because the plot is extremely engaging and unique. And although there might be some scientific flaws in the plot, it’s a fun and creative to way explore this “what if” scenario.
The biggest kudos however goes to director Neil Burger, who’s a relative newcomer to the scene. His only other breakout film was The Illusionist with Edward Norton. What he does in this movie is terrific. As our hero(?) takes these pills and rides this rollercoaster of ups and downs, Burger uses a style similar to what Aronofsky did in Requiem for a Dream. The visual style of the film echoes what the person using the drug might be feeling. The opening credit sequence alone had me starring at the screen in awe. The style, along with Cooper’s engaging protagonist, kept me on the edge of my seat til the final credits.
What didn’t work? There are some pretty big plot holes that aren’t really explained, and in a movie where everything focuses on the details, it’s hard to overlook them. Either details contradict themselves or things are just left unexplained.
I wasn’t impressed with either Robert De Niro or Abbie Cornish, both of whom I thought would have had more significant roles. This is pretty much a one-man ride for Bradley Cooper. I mean, De Niro and Cornish are there but that’s about it. Even a turn for De Niro in the final moments of the movie feels like it was acknowledging that he was underused, so they tried to force in one more thing for him to do.
Solid film. It’s a fun and exciting look at what might happen to an average person with superhuman intelligence. It’s available now on Netflix streaming and is well worth a watch, if not for curiousity and some creative filmmaking.