Directed by Neil Burger. Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish.
Based on a 2001 novel called The Dark Fields (which gets some product placement in the film), Limitless has an interesting concept, stunning visuals and adrenalin-charged music. But I got the feeling that the plot was a bit limited and perhaps the filmmakers could’ve done with a neuron-activating magic pill just like the one that super charges the film’s protagonist.
Bradley ‘all the girls wanna jump him’ Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a down and out aspiring novel writer who ends up looking like a bum and so his girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) decides to leave him. And that’s when he stumbles upon his ex-wife’s (Anna Friel) brother Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) who decides to be generous and gives Eddie an 800 bucks a pop pill that will change his life. And that it does…
From a pale rainy-day sort of look the film changes visually to brighter and deeper colours after the ‘pill’ is taken to signify the brain being used 100 per cent and seeing things more vividly and in finer detail. Words descend upon him at warp speed as he furiously bangs out his overdue novel and submits it to the surprised editor. But why stop at just writing? He could make millions on the stock market.
Limitless starts off brilliantly with an amazing shot as the credits roll by. The camera zooms fast forward through streets and penetrates taxi cabs one by one faster and faster down an endless almost limitless street. And just as quickly Eddie’s addict-boozed up looking persona transforms into a slick, razor-sharp minded hunk all the girls want to fuck because of his large… intellect. Money comes and trouble can’t be far behind as he has to deal with mysterious murderers who want to get him and his ex-girlfriend who returns after she hears him speaking fluent Italian a month after leaving him. Women like men who can use their tongue well!
The film has some awesome beats that had my foot thumping and the fast-paced camera movements and visual elements like TV shows and computer games his brain remembers from the past spliced together between hand-to-hand combat that Eddie gets into are engaging. But I found myself drifting during the movie’s boring montages of him buying and selling stocks and talking about how wondrous the pill was and how upping his dose meant exponentially increasing his learning curve. Of course the pill doesn’t come without its side effects and that too is dealt with in quite dull a fashion. Headaches and time lapses. Hmph!
Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) strays from the central story of this miracle pill to dealing with thugs, conspiracy and then to girlfriend Lindy thus stealing focus from a concept that pulled us in. To be quite honest, there’s a scene with Abbie Cornish where she’s being chased by a bad guy and has to take a pill to ‘think’ her way out of the situation, which is amazing. I’d rather have watched her be the limitless protagonist than watch the frankly boring Bradley, as much as I know he’s ‘tried’ to do a good job. Like Robert De Niro (who plays tycoon Carl Van Loon) says in a scene with Bradley, his character may not be the whiz kid doling out attitude but he has experience and age on his side, which would eventually win out. Now though that isn’t true in the film, it’s probably true in real life and dear Bradley needs a lot more under his belt (no pun intended) than just The Hangover before he is considered solid leading man material.