by Tony Medley
Run time 105 minutes.
OK for children.
I used to be a big baseball
fan. In fact, Iím confident when I say there are few alive who know as
much about the game as I. But, while lots of things cooled me on the
game, a big factor was steroids and the mongoloid idiots who used them.
They destroyed the hallowed records upon which the popularity of the
game is based. The refusal of the Commissioner to take a principled
stand condemned the game to an abdication of its history.
This film stands as a clear
metaphor for those imbeciles. Instead of sports, itís business and
politics. And instead of a chemical that enhances physical prowess, in
this film itís a drug, NZT, a designer pharmaceutical that expands the
use of the takerís brain to its fullest extent possible.
Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) is
a blocked writer. He canít fill the blank page with words. His
girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), dumps him, as does his editor.
Despondent, he runs into his ex brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny
Whitworth), who gives him a magic pill that allows him to access the
power of his brain to the fullest extent. Suddenly he is amazingly
aware, a font of knowledge, sort of like the way George Costanza (Jason
Alexander) became in an episode of Seinfeld, entitled The
Abstinence, which aired November 21, 1996. He knows everything and
can digest the most complex writings in an instant. From there things
take turns he couldnít have anticipated, including people trying to kill
him and Lindy.
This is a fascinating
thriller. Cooper gives a fine performance, seamlessly transgressing from
a down-and-out guy who looks like a street person to a well-groomed
budding Captain of Industry. Whitworth is equally compelling as the
conniving Vernon. Cornish, always one of my favorites, failed in a vague
way to come across the way she usually does, not one of her better
performances. Robert De Niro seemed to confuse this role as a powerful
entrepreneur with the many comedy roles heís been playing. His
performance was little more than a caricature. Hoist on his own petard,
from the look on his face I kept anticipating a laugh line.
Despite these failings, this
is a fun movie that never lets up. Director Neil Burger keeps the pace
going with constantly mounting tension, getting the most out of a fine
script (Leslie Dixon) from a novel, The Dark Fields by Alan
Glynn. It is enhanced by terrific special effects (Connie Brink),
cinematography (Jo Willems), editing (Tracy Adams and Naomi Geraghty),
and music (Paul Leonard-Morgan).