To say the previews of this film inspired me to watch it is an overstatement. It was only upon the positive word of mouth from work colleagues that made me seek this film out. I thought the concept interesting but was likely to be schmaltzy and quite shallow. This is a masterpiece dressed in a commercial film’s clothes.
To coin a phrase from the 35mm Heroes, “I was a big, big fan of Limitless and it surprised the shit out of me”. That sums it up perfectly. Fairly new Director on the scene, Neil Burger, shows that he’s got somethingÂ fresh to show you in amongst a sea of mediocrity. This is a movie for the jaded people, the ones who have seen it all and feel that they’re watching everything all over again. You haven’t seen this, I assure you, and watching this film is like a breath of fresh air. You’ll think you know which way it will go, and you’d be wrong.
Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a down and out writer living in his own filth and unable to produce any words on paper due to a severe writers block. His girlfriend, played by Abbie Cornish,Â has just dumped him, he’s overdue on his submission for his new novel to the publisher, the world is a pretty drab place. The colour palette of the film conveys this…. moreÂ on that later.Â Eddie bumps into his ex-wife’s drug dealing brother, who supplies him with a “helping hand” to relieve his creative problems. A new designer drug called “NZT” which allows Eddie to use 100% of his brain at once. This transforms him from the quiet introvert into the charismatic extrovert who gets noticed, a man who sees everything clearer than anyone could imagine, completely understands complex mathmatics, sees all patterns and trends, remembers things you couldn’t think possible…… understands everything. Eddie visits his friend to get more than just a taster, he needs more to help dig him out of his shithole he’s built for himself and as anyone else would do, sieze the opportunity to get rich quick. Trouble is, the stuff is in high demand and low quantity. People can andÂ will kill for the opportunity to get hold of some NZT. Due to circumstances that are out of his control, Eddie finds himself in the posession of a decentÂ sizedÂ bag full of NZT, enough to keep him going for months. And so begins his rapid ascension from squallor to squillions, though being shadowed by some fairly unsavoury types with the purpose of relieving him of his tablets and probably his life. That is not his only problem, certain conditions arise when you cold turkey stop taking the pills. To tell you more would really just spoil what the film has in store for you.Â Eddie ditches the idea of being an Author and decides to go for the big bucks working the stock market. On NZT, everything makes sense and he quickly gets noticed by ball busting, take no shit, high flying Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). Finally, DeNiro with some meat again. The fairly small amount of timeÂ on screen that DeNiro gets is spent wisely. His excellent performance in this is very welcome afterÂ his rather dry latter years of film. It’s DeNiro doing what he does best. One hard arsed shark.
From everyone I’ve heard talk about this film, they will always say “I wish I could take some of that”. The success of this film lies solely in this statement. Burger has crafted quite the little masterpiece here with the way you see the film itself. The way he’s conveyed the drug kicking in, how you see the world whilst on it and what possibilities the drug could afford you. When Eddie takes the drug and it starts to kick in, the drabness and monotony you get from Eddie’s life all but floats away with everything starting to look golden and sunny, hopeful even. It’s amazing what a simple thing as a change in the colour pallette can do for the viewer. I think it’s a fitting way to convey the emotion the character must feel when he’s dosed up. It certainly worked for me.Â Then, when he speaks, you can immediately see the change. Cooper playedÂ Eddie perfectly. FromÂ downtrodden scumÂ to Mr. Fantastic within the same frame. It’s very cleverly done throughout the film and you can’t help but feel that it’s probably the best representation of being high ever put to film, even though the character isn’t strictly speaking “high” as such.Â The infinite zoom effect was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and left me wondering “WTF?…. HOW?”. You probably don’t know what I mean if you’ve not seen it but you’ll know what I mean when you do. It made my wife motion sick, which I could understand if you’re someone who gets travel sickness as she does. So there’s a warning for you, if you’re prone to this then shut your eyes when the starting credits roll as it’s one hell of a ride. There’s a few others thrown in for good measure too. It’s an awesome effect that I’ve never seen before. The whole movie is a feast for the eyeballs, let alone the brain.Â AÂ perfect film to be viewed in a cinema, I highly recommend it.
To be quite honest, I can’t really fault much with the film. Save for a scene that’s relatively important but seems to be glossed over and dismissed quite quickly. I thought I had the end pegged. I wasn’t even close and the end itself is revalatory. Totally satisfying and one could hope that maybe in the future we’ll see a continuation. It’s films like this and Directors like these that fill you with a sense of hope for the future. Surprises are getting fewer and far between but every now and then you strike gold, and right here we certainly have. Bravo.