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Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro
Director: Neil Burger

Relativity Media and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Of peripheral interest. Too much violence and sexual content. Missing a moral message.

The story of a man who takes a pill that gives him access to 100% of his brainpower. Entertaining enough but without the Buddhist perspective relatively meaningless (success being measured here in mere degrees of difference from the normal). Worse, there is an almost an anti-moral stance. Ethical thinking never enters the decision-making process of the 'hero'. OK this manipulative weak-willed self-indulgent sexually over-charged murderering thieving psychopath wants great success so that once in power he can change the world for the better. How would he know what was better? What on earth made the author of this story think that old established patterns used by the normal 20% of this guys brain would suddenly change when he used 100%? Old story: predictable end.

The interesting thing for the Buddhist here, moreso even than the Matrix message (ultimately muddled) of multiple realities and existences, is the idea of awakening to great powers. The movie is a good illustration of the danger facing one who attains high mental states as with drugs or meditation without sufficient training in how to handle such states: Training in ethical conduct, self-control and the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom (that is, knowing how to properly use knowledge). Without such training every desire is magnified and leads almost instantly to some horror story. The movie should be seen thinking of one's self, in the audience (and therefor not 'acting'), as an awakened Buddhist, letting go of every temptation to take worldly advantage of the powers this fellow is accessing seeing in the movie part of the picture the consequences of doing otherwise. The voice of reason in this story, such as it is, (and one of the bad guys in this picture!) is the Robert De Niro character (who is defeated in the end).

PS: A basic premise of the movie is that normal man only accesses 20% of his brainpower. I think this is a misunderstanding. We use 100% of our brainpower, but are aware of only a small fraction. The perceived phenomena that we are unable to use the resources that are theoretically within the scope of our brainpower is a matter of kamma. We experience what powers we perceive in ourselves as a consequence of our awaking to things the way they really are which is a matter of effort which is a matter of kamma. Upon 'awakening' we do not access more brainpower, we become aware of a greater scope and power of the mind.

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