It has been a while since I've seen such a visually stunning style wasted on such a piss-poor story. In fact, the only reason I say "a while" is because I can't think of the last time I sat in awe of such a well-presented concept that is ruined through a mind-boggingly poor execution. I feel bad because this is the first movie by Neil Burger (The Illusionist, The Lucky Ones) that I genuinely disliked. The premise is actually very interesting. A writer (Bradley Cooper) takes a pill that allows him to access 100% of his brain's capacity. The drug helps him repair his relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) and leads him to Wall Street where he gains the notice of a big-shot corporate guy (Robert De Niro). Yet things get complicated and the pill's side effects begin to take a disastrous toll on its users.
Cooper can carry a movie. As much as I disliked the final product, he shows promise as a lead compared to his fantastic ensemble efforts in The Hangover and The A-Team. A problem is that a lot of the film is told through narration and Cooper doesn't necessarily have one of those voices that lends itself to voice-over. The whole cast (Cooper, Cornish, De Niro, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth) don't do a bad job, they just have the unfortunate pleasure of being part of such a poorly structured story. The movie moves too fast at times (even for one that is meant to skip around) and the scenes just get more ridiculous whether its the opening passive break-up or the vampirism-inspired finale. The audience I was with (and myself included) were laughing at moments that were meant to be deadly serious. The cinematography, editing, and score all led me to believe this was a serious movie and they convey the mood better than the storyline does.
By the way, kudos to the technicians who worked on this film because it seems they actually used brain power (excuse the lame pun) to come up with some very inventive moments, visually speaking (so some credit goes to Burger for his ambitious vision). The writer avoided any emotive moments so I can hardly blame the actors for falling flat when it's so clear that this story is doomed from the beginning. Speaking of the story, what exactly was the moral? By the time the end of the film comes around, the message of this movie is barely decipherable, especially as we see that Eddie Morra is one of the most selfish protagonists to ever waste my time and money.