As fun as it is ridiculous, Limitless is a glossy star vehicle that also lets the audience think about some interesting ideas. Neil Burger directs, from a screenplay by Leslie Dixon that is based on Alan Glynn’s book, The Dark Fields, but this is really all about Bradley Cooper easily setting himself up as a star name who can open a movie.
Cooper stars as Eddie and when we first see him he’s hovering one foot over the top of a very tall building and contemplating whether or not to jump. Jumping back in time, we see Eddie looking very different. He’s a writer who hasn’t actually written anything and the girlfriend he loves (Abbie Cornish) can’t support him any more. A chance meeting with his ex-wife’s brother (Johnny Whitworth) finds Eddie getting his hands on a pill that does wonders for those who take it, it allows the recipient to start using 100% of their brain as opposed to the usual 20%. This means that Eddie can recall everything that he’s ever learned and enables him to be more motivated, much smarter and more confident. It’s a dream in a little pill. But in the world of sci-fi it wouldn’t be the first time that a dream has turned into a bit of a nightmare. While becoming a major player and really starting to make the most of his life, including making some major money and impressing Robert De Niro’s BIG business figure, Eddie discovers that people may be after him and that others who have already tried the pill aren’t necessarily faring too well.
With a script that sketches a number of great ideas without overshadowing the main characters that we come to care about (even when unsure of just how immoral things might be getting) and a stylish way of depicting the effects of NZT (the name that the pill goes by), Neil Burger has really put everything in place to provide moviegoers with something that’s a little bit different from the norm while also being just as pleasing as any number of other thrillers from recent years.
The cast are all very good. Anna Friel has a very small role, De Niro is a step back from the self-parody he has sometimes been guilty of in the twenty first century and Cornish does well with her limited screentime. Don’t doubt it though, this is Cooper’s show all the way and the man proves that he can shine when doing more than being the unflappable, cocky scamp persona that audiences have warmed to. Limitless certainly has many fun moments when Cooper IS that unflappable, cocky scamp but there are also scenes at the start with him convincingly portraying someone who is, let’s not beat around the bush, a bit of a loser. He’s also far from confident when trying to wean himself off NZT and becoming increasingly paranoid about who may be after him, and why.
On the surface, Limitless is intelligent fun but it doesn’t really hold up under closer scrutiny. Mind you, that closer scrutiny only begins when the end credits have rolled and you start discussing the enjoyable experience that you’ve just had.
DIRECTOR: NEIL BURGER
STARS: BRADLEY COOPER, ROBERT DE NIRO, ABBIE CORNISH, ANNA FRIEL
RUNTIME: 105 MINS APPROX