REVIEW: (out of four)
If you’ve ever thought about what would happen if you took a pill that could literally fix all of your flaws and unlock sides of you that no one knew existed, then Limitless is the movie for you. If not, then you’re shit out of luck and I would suggest finding something else to do with the next four or five minutes of your life instead of continuing to read this.
Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a starving and struggling writer whose life changes radically when he is introduced to NZT, an experimental, black-market pharmaceutical drug that allows him to remember everything he’s ever read or experienced, learn new languages in a day, master complex equations in a blink, mastermind the workings of Wall Street, and, presumably, decode all of the twists and turns in Inception.
Since we all have been desensitized to the fact that nothing this powerful in movie land can ever come without a price, it should come as no surprise that Eddie soon finds himself scrambling to replenish his supply, for the effects of one pill wear off within a day or so. And, to top that all of, he’s also in the process of trying to fend off a group of ruthless Russian mobsters who are on to his “get rich and successful quickly” scheme. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), who had written Eddie off as a deadbeat at the beginning of the film, finds herself powerless against her hubby’s newfound intelligence and charisma. Eddie also manages to somehow attract the attention of Wall Street mogul Carl Van Loon played by Robert De Niro, who just seems so uncomfortably out of place here.
Cooper has such screen presence in this film that even when the plot verges on complete and utter insanity, I felt content with shirking off the confines of reality and just going along with him on this wildly unrealistic and overblown ride. He’s fascinating to watch as he transitions from a scruffy, down and out loser to a successful, pill-popping genius and playboy. Cooper proves, if nothing more, that he is more than capable of tackling the coveted leading man status from here on out, with screen legend De Niro barely even on screen. And even when he is, Cooper sweeps the spotlight right from under him. I almost felt bad for the guy. With almost forty years under his belt, I don’t think he ever could have imagined the day that he’d be upstaged by some up-and-coming heartthrob. I suppose that is Hollywood for you; one moment you’re on top and the next you’re right back where you started: on the bottom and making others look good by just being there.
There are so many questions that could have been addressed and answered throughout the course of this film concerning Eddie’s super-intellect, but instead opts for the drug angle which, I think, may have been its biggest downfall. Yet, despite its flaws (man there sure are plenty), this is a surprisingly good thriller that’s propelled along at an excitingly fast-pace by a star making performance. Although Limitless may not shake any new sort of ground, smart and entertaining flicks are hard to come by nowadays. And given the line up of other films that are currently in release, I can almost guarantee that this one is just about the best that you’re going to get. Take it or leave it.