This week for me has been all about potential; the striving towards, achieving of and sometimes failure, to reach it. All sparked off by the release of Limitless, about a troubled writer who finds his life completely changed by the taking of a pill that allows him access to the usually untapped parts of the brain.
The first 20 minutes could’ve been almost autobiographical. Bradley Cooper is the budding writer struggling with a lack of focus, a messy apartment and few words on his laptop. Looking around me now, I can completely sympathise. During the writing of this article alone I’ve already got up from the desk half-a-dozen times to make coffee, check the mail, call someone about something, check my emails, make more coffee etc.
Although that’s where the similarities end (don’t do drugs kids). As he discovers the substance which turns him into a whizz kid and international playboy things get much cooler very quickly for him -money, cars, women and sharp suits are available in abundance to him. Don’t get me wrong, working for the BBC is not without its charms, but they come in other forms (branded stationary!). Of course his meteoric rise cannot go undetected for long before inevitably sinister figures and side effects appear on the horizon.
It’s a fantastic concept. I mean what would you do if you could increase your productivity by 1,000% and open your mind to endless opportunities? It got me thinking about the potential in all of us and the best way to maximise it. Maybe being aware of how much time I waste each week could be the key to wringing the most out of my schedule?
It turns out in my case that simply knowing how much you regularly screw things up and dither your way through existence is of little help in the hoarding of precious time. You actually have to delve into more complex life situations and really think. Quickly blurting ‘I’ll have a cheese salad sandwich please!’ into an unsuspecting deli vendor’s face in an attempt to streamline your timetable, does not an enterprising individual make.
Discussing achieving potential leads me naturally onto where one falls on one’s behind in the pursuit of it. This week also sees the release of The Eagle from Kevin McDonald. The man behind the superb Touching the Void, Last King of Scotland and State Of Play, appears to have taken his eye off the ball in his latest effort.
The film has many faults; it appears to take ages to decide what story to tell and when it does the pace crawls rather than blasts off. Despite his frame Channing Tatum leaves most of the heavy lifting, acting wise, to Jamie Bell. Their friendship never convinces and Mark Strong is hideously underused while for some bizarre reason his character is called ‘Guern’ which had me in fits.
The biggest problem though is the accents. I’m fully versed in accepting American tones from English characters (I’m looking at you Kevin Costner), but there’s such a variation here that it is completely distracting. At first I thought it was just Tatum, but I quickly realised it was just the Roman soldiers who possessed an LA lilt, including the actors of British origin. Was this some attempt to align Americans with the good guys? I can’t be sure, but it is so distracting that it was the final nail in an already well-secured coffin.
Kevin McDonald is too talented for this to be a trend though and I’ll still be first in the queue for his next project. That’s the lovely thing about potential, it’s always there. If you’ve got the talent, it’s waiting expectantly to be snatched at by sweaty, competitive hands. This means no matter how many times you fall off your horse, you can get back on and have another go. With that in mind, I’m off to order a sandwich.