Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a stereotypical struggling writer; his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) has left him, he’s as unkempt as his apartment and his novel isn’t doing a great job of writing itself. But a chance meeting with an old acquaintance introduces Eddie to a wonder drug that allows the taker to use 100% of their brainpower, NZT.
NZT turns Eddie’s mind into an uber-sponge, allowing him to ingest the most minute piece of information and seemingly know it’s subject matter inside and out. Having finished his book and won his girlfriend back, Eddie uses his heightened mental abilities to play the stock market and ultimately lands himself a job with business magnate Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). But with his stash running low and his dependency running high, how long will Eddie last before his mind crashes?
Bradley Cooper is totally convincing as a charismatic know-it-all you can’t help but fall in love with and whilst he’s not as convincing as a down and out (because he’s Bradley fucking Cooper) he does an okay job of it. Despite her character having a good chemistry with Eddie, Abbie Cornish fails to make much of an impact (except in one scene which I won’t spoil) and you’ll know her as â€œthe girlfriendâ€ throughout the entire film. Robert DeNiro is running completely on autopilot and I put his involvement down to either needing to buy new pool filters or just living around the corner from the location; his character may as well have been called Carl Can’t Be Arsed.
Whilst the acting doesn’t shine, the cinematography does and it makes for a very visually interesting watch. Two distinct colour palettes are used whilst Eddie is both on and off NZT and though it is pretty basic cinema language it is used well and feels natural after the first few occurrences. Sadly, the quality of the image on the Blu Ray disc doesn’t make the colours as vibrant as the should have been and it lets the overall quality down. The visual effects, though sparse, are good first time around but you will notice the seams on a second viewing. As a word of warning, people with motion sickness should be wary of the film’s intro sequence.
The script is just passable and by the end of the film you will find you have the ability to finish many of the character’s sentences. Apart from Eddie, there’s very few unique character to be seen; the detective says detective stuff, the stock broker does stoker brokery things. The only truly fun character is a stereotypical Russian gangster who gets his own supply of NZT and becomes the â€œanti-Eddieâ€, waxing lyrical about the new words he has added to his vocabulary and wearing gaudy suits. And although you may like the look of Bradley Cooper, I can guarantee you’ll be sick of the sound of his voice thanks to the film’s heavy use of voice over.
â€œLimitlessâ€ is about a man trying to reach his full potential and the film itself tries to do the same, but fails; it could have done with a dose of it’s own medicine. This has been remedied with an extended, unrated cut which shows us more of Eddie’s escapades which had to be cut to give the film it’s PG-13 rating in America. However, this version has only been released in the States and is sadly absent in the UK. After reading some of the differences between the theatrical and extended version I think this is a mighty shame and could have really helped make a stronger and more focused film.
That said, Neil Burger does a good job with the material provided and it’s easy to see why he’s inherited the â€œUnchartedâ€ movie from David O. Russell. The action, of which there isn’t much, is exciting without being drawn out, the tension is well played and understated and the humour works well without being laugh out loud funny.
Despite it’s faults, â€œLimitlessâ€ is a fun but forgettable popcorn film that will entertain despite being less clever than it thinks it is. It won’t be making many top ten lists this year but it’s 105 minute run time are definitely worth your attention on a rainy Saturday night in.
- Neil Burger’s Director’s Commentary
- Alternate Ending
- A Man Without Limits
- Taking it to The Limit: The Making of Limitless