Air Date: Friday 3/18
Us Rating: **
Slacker NYC writer Eddie (Bradley Cooper) pops illegal drug NZT and suddenly gains a four-digit IQ. Overnight, he finally completes his novel, rekindles his affair with his chilly editor ex (Abbie Cornish) and apprentices to a billionaire financier (Robert De Niro). Winning! But oops: The drug has a few side effects, like uncharacteristic blackouts and, er, murderous behavior. At one point, Eddie laps up a dead man's blood! Handsome even when sporting a ponytail in the early scenes, Cooper is at his best in the movie's middle section, when he transforms into a slick success.
But the unfocused story, based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields, zips all over the grid. Its biggest sin, however? Relying heavily on Eddie's voice-over to clarify plot details (for example, he doesn't need to say "Obviously, I miscalculated a few things" when he's standing on a penthouse ledge about to leap!). Also, the camera work is almost too acrobatic, moving so swiftly (to simulate enhanced speed) that audiences may feel motion sickness. At one point, the overactive camera views the hero upside down -- when he's vomiting. It's a wild but wearisome ride.
-- THELMA ADAMS