Limit Up (1989)


USA. 1989.


Director/Story – Richard Martini, Screenplay – Richard Martini & Lu Anders, Producer – Jonathan D. Krane, Photography – Peter Lyons Collister, Music – John Tesh, Special Effects – Wizards Inc, Production Design – A. Clifford Searcy. Production Company – M.C.E.G. Productions/Sterling Entertainment Co


Nancy Allen (Casey Falls), Danitra Vance (Nike), Brad Hall (Marty Callahan), Dean Stockwell (Peter Oak), Rance Howard (Chuck Feeney), Sandra Bogan (Andy Lincoln), Ray Charles (Julius)


Casey Falls is a lowly runner at Chicago’s Midwest Grain Exchange, which deals in soybean futures. Casey yearns most in the world to become a trader but her aspirations are treated with disdain by her employers because she is a woman. She meets Nike who introduces herself as an agent of The Devil and offers to allow Casey to become a high-flying trader in return for her soul. Casey accepts and rockets to the top overnight. She then realises that The Devil is using her to corner the world soybean market so that he can create famine at will. In order to stop The Devil’s plan, Casey must risk her career, her marriage and being indicted for fraud.

This is a drearily routine variant on the hackneyed theme of the diabolical pact fantasy. The minor deviation that Limit Up makes is in being set against a futures exchange. (The reason for this appears to be that one of the director’s relations is a futures trader). The film at one point makes a potentially interesting analogy between dealing in futures and dealing in souls but nothing further is made of this. As with most films set in the world of high finance, the plot to the uninitiated appears to be occurring in a foreign language without the benefit of subtitles.

The fantasy element is conducted wholly by the numbers. Most of the other films in this light fantasy genre operate as equally by the numbers but few of them ever seem to have operate with so slim and padded a plot (which incidentally was co-written by former actress Luana Anders). The film does rise to make a mild feminist message about women being unable to get anywhere in the male-dominated business world. The worst part about the film is the ending where it is revealed that the agent of The Devil is in fact an agent of God and that it was all part of God’s plan to have Nancy Allen indicted for fraud, her marriage ruined and to lose everything in order to teach her to stand up for herself. That the plot could play as some modern day variation on the Book of Job seems to have escaped the scriptwriters. The moral of the film is laid on in a way that all but directly preaches to the audience – in the last shot, Danitra Vance wonders who is next and waggles her eyebrows to the camera. One of the film’s other biggest missed opportunities is non-villain Dean Stockwell who is built up to be Nancy Allen’s adversary and then nothing done with the character except an unbelievable scene near the end when this total shark of a character turns up at the auction and bids thousands of dollars for useless junk to bail her out.

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