Who knew a little, clear pill could change your life for the better? Eddie Mora was a struggling writer who could not even get through the first words of his novel. He was unfocused and unmotivated. A chance encounter with his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon, turns him onto a pill that is supposed to allow him to access the full capacity of his mind. After his first dose lets him complete the first several chapters of his book (with successful results), he returns to Vernon to get more but finds him dead with the stash left untouched. Taking the bag for his own use, he starts to rake in the money and sets up an opportunity to work for a major merger involving Carl Van Loon, reaping a huge reward. Unfortunately, his swift rise to fortune attracts some significant pressure and the pills seem to be messing with his memory and perception of time. It is unclear what might kill him first, his enemies or the miracle drug.
Starring: Bradley Cooper (Eddie Morra), Robert De Niro (Carl Van Loon), Abbie Cornish (Lindy), Andrew Howard (Gennady), Anna Friel (Melissa), Johnny Whitworth (Vernon), TV Carpio (Valerie)
In his first truly strong feature film, Bradley Cooper is able to project two sides of himself, the writer and the shark. Prior to taking the medication, he portrays the struggles that many people fall into, including lacking motivation and striving for a dream in the wrong way. He honestly appears like a kind heart who just cannot make it work. On the medication, he is confident, smooth and a bit arrogant, but he immediately becomes a success because of his ability to read everything around him. He plays the transformation well, significantly more than the other characters who end up on MDT. His on and off girlfriend is played by Abbie Cornish. Even in the moments she breaks his heart, she remains a caring personality who never loses the connection with the audience. While Eddie becomes a shark, Robert De Niro’s character maintains those strong features throughout the film. He may not physically threaten his enemies, but he certainly scares them as much as criminal Gennady, played by Andrew Howard. Both characters maintain an element of fear in Eddie’s life as he adjusts to and attempts to escape from the effects of MDT.
Most movies that look at drug use generally alter people’s perceptions of realty for the worse or decrease one’s mental ability. Neil Burger uses this film to answer the question of what we would do if provided access to the full potential of our minds. Providing a somewhat realistic perspective of mind-altering medication, the drug in this film opens up the ability to sense and perceive new information and access previously stored information. While we certainly have more data stored in our long-term memory than we generally realize, imagine if you could instantly access and apply all of that information and soak up new information like a sponge. Eddie does not immediately become a genius, but he quickly learns how he can take advantage of his limitless capacity for knowledge and ability to learn at significantly greater speeds. He seems unstoppable as he accomplishes long-term goals in mere days and achieves significant gains in only weeks. If this were a true drug, it would be interesting to think about the demand and the competition that would arise for both access and between users.
The flashing forward scenes are a little dizzying, but the narration provides a more unique presentation and the film is honestly an enjoyable experience.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5