“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Illuminating THE DARK FIELDS

‘Limitless’, the movie version of Alan Glynn’s THE DARK FIELDS, gets its release in the US on Friday, and in the UK and Ireland on March 23rd, and very enjoyable it is too - a seductive tale of drug-induced super-human intelligence that quickly spirals out of control into a paranoid conspiracy thriller. To wit:
Limitless (15A)
Struggling writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) has his life transformed when an old acquaintance hooks him up with NZT, a drug so new it hasn’t been patented. The super-drug allows Eddie to access 100% of his consciousness, as opposed to the 20% used by non-NZT users, and suddenly Eddie is wooing back his ex-girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) and moving into the world of high finance as he beats Wall Street at its own game. But ever drug has its come-down, and NZT’s is particularly vicious - soon Eddie finds himself embroiled in violence and murder, and facing a very early death. Based on Irish novelist Alan Glynn’s THE DARK FIELDS, the movie comes charging out of the gate as if its makers themselves were on some kind of super-drug, a fast-paced, smart and engaging thriller that exerts a fascinating grip - who, after all, wouldn’t want to turn into a world-beater overnight, and at the drop of a tiny pill? Cooper is in particularly fine form as Eddie, convincingly downbeat in the beginning, when he looks like a hobo, but equally believable as a super-human font of all knowledge, and he gets strong support from Cornish, even if her character tends to flit in and out of proceedings. Meanwhile, Robert De Niro, playing financier Carl Van Loon, is rather laidback here, although it’s still his most enjoyable performance in some years. The movie starts to lose focus once Eddie begins to experience time-slips and blackouts, and while the creeping sense of drug-induced paranoia is effectively done, the screenwriters attempt to cram too much story onto the screen, which results in plot digressions, red herrings and half-finished storylines. Overall, though, it’s a hell of a trip. ****
  Incidentally, THE DARK FIELDS has been re-released as LIMITLESS to coincide with the movie’s release, and it’ll come as no surprise to learn that the book is a superior experience to the movie (watch out, by the way, for the neat touch in the film when Eddie publishes a book called ILLUMINATING THE DARK FIELDS). Meanwhile, clickety-click here for Alan’s account of the tortuous process of watching THE DARK FIELDS slowly wend its way towards the silver screen …

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