Posts Tagged ‘Robert De Niro’



USA 2011  Directed by: Neil Burger  Written by: Leslie Dixon  Based on: The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn  Produced by: Leslie Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh, Scott Kroopf  Cinematography by: Jo Willems  Editing by: Tracy Adams, Naomi Geraghty  Music by: Paul Leonard-Morgan  Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel, Johnny Witworth, Robert John Burke, Tomas Arana, T.V. Carpio, Patricia Kalember, Andrew Howard

So much to do, so little time; some of us feel like this while others are just the opposite – with little purpose in life and thus feel like too much time on their hands. “Limitless” opened the window and let us peek out to the great wide open of possibilities and also see what could happen if one tries to fly too close to the sun. It’s a classic moral tale told through the lens of a very unique and innovative director, Neil Burger. Some of the imagery done here are downright trippy. But it styled the story so fittingly. After all, it is a science fiction piece about a loser writer, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), with a mental block that got handed a miraculous tip in the form of a little transparent pill, which can optimize a person’s brain function to 100%. But with great power comes greater threats, turbo-charging all the stakes to overload.

This film rides heavily on Bradley Cooper, his first-time lead role. As an alumnus of The Actors Studio in New York (the Mecca for actors to be), he had all the training, intensity, and charm to silence any speculations over his ability to keep the audience in the seats and his supporting actor at bay – Robert De Niro, who plays Eddie’s boss, mentor and rival, Carl Van Loon.

The pill clocks in at 30 seconds to take effect and lasts 24 hours. At which time, Eddie crawls out of his grimy world and into one that is saturated with clarity, edge, detail and speed. A drug addict with a larger-than-life dream, Cooper’s repeating transformation from the slummed-out slacker to the golden boy with the Billionaire Boys Club swagger is easily entertaining as is sympathetic. It’s this constant contrast between the light and shadows that draws you in. Along the way, other characters are seen leveraging from this pill, each giving a notable attempt at this transformation; to which, surprisingly, was Eddie’s loan shark, a Russian immigrant – played palatably satisfying, maybe even trumping Cooper, by Andrew Howard.

With a plot that keeps twisting but never sliding far from its own truth – although a couple of scenes could have propelled it to ace status – “Limitless” carries enough weight to fend off any lip-gnawing thriller and yet has the humor, light or dark, to find everyone able to enjoy it with a few snorts and slaps to the knee. At the end, it even leaves the story open for new chapters and us wanting more…as long as the writers don’t run out of their limit of magic little pills.



USA 2010  Directed by: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis  Written by: Robert Rodriguez, Alvaro Rodriguez  Produced by: Robert Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan, Rick Schwartz  Cinematography by: Jimmy Lindsey  Editing by: Robert Rodriguez, Rebecca Rodriguez  Music by: John Debney, Chingon  Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Lindsey Lohan, Daryl Sabara, Tom Savini, Shea Whigham, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro

At a time of the global terrorism scare where everyone’s zeroed in on the Muslims I’m glad someone has the humor and heart to take a stab at a more looked over, and less glamorous, group of people – Mexicans. Being a Mexican, it’s a no-brainer that only someone like Robert Rodriguez could get away with all the racial slurs and stereotypes. And, throw in his usual bad-boy, over-the-top illustration and storyline, you can bet “Machete” will pack enough zing in this much-anticipated bravado flick.

“Machete” takes us on a journey through the life of the title character, played by Danny Trejo. With his real-life convict background and a slew of slash roles, he makes a convincing case of the ex-federal agent gone berserk. As a genre movie, “Machete” is pretty much by the book: hero does what he does; villain finds his weakness (wife) and kills her and him; only later to discover he survives the fiasco; hero embarks on a path of revenge and finds salvation – in Machete’s case, to continue killing more people.

The movie in general is quaintly fun. The characters are caricatures in essence. With an amazing cast, the players had their own moments of glory. Robert De Niro was exceptionally comical playing a two-faced camera-loving Texan senator, whom which was not too far removed from the last US president. His right-hand man-dog, Booth, is played to a T by the intense Jeff Fahey, who’s aged gracefully menacing. Booth’s daughter is out of control and out of clothes for the most part. And this role seemed like the perfect vehicle for the scandalous Lindsay Lohan to poke fun of herself and make a comeback by basing the character solely on her own life’s story. And, not stopping at reviving bygone actors, Rodriguez introduces Don Johnson to a new generation of  audience that might be unfamiliar with the dashing Miami Vice star whom can probably only be seen on a VHS playback. His squeaky voice and deadpan expression reminded me of an aging Brando. (This is totally a serious compliment in every possible way.) 80’s action fans would also get a tickle by the pudgy Steven “hand grappling and hair grafting” Seagal. His place seemed quite perfect as the Mexican mastermind that’s behind all the gore and politics, until his ridiculous end, which came abruptly pointless.

And this pointlessness surfaced to be the actual backbone of this self-back-patting burrito salad. From the flaming-hot but unbearable Latina wannabe, Jessica Alba (whom looked like a Sunday-school-play amateur next to the hell-bending Michelle Rodriguez) to the endless punch lines that served as empty calories on the plate. Not to say it wasn’t enjoyable – if your memory’s short-lived. But, if you have seen past films from this Latin lad (more guts, glory, gore and jokes that cause sickness), you’ll soon realize that “Machete” came off the Rodriguez stove as a dish that’s full of nothing.