Limitless Review: Limited

Limitless (TBC): On General Release From Wednesday 23rd March

The Hangover was one of the biggest comedies of the decade, the A-Team promotional ads were everywhere and he’s appeared in numerous romantic comedies but people still don’t seem to know who Bradley Cooper is. All that looks set to change as he takes the lead in director Neil Burger’s drug thriller, Limitless.

Cooper plays down-and-out author Eddie Morra who’s been wrestling with a bad case of writer’s block which has put a strain on his relationship with Lindy (Abbie Cornish). She’s had enough of his layabout, struggling artist ways and breaks it off with him. Feeling lost and dejected, Eddie runs into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon, a dodgy drug rep who gives Eddie a free sample of NZT. The little clear pill allows users to access 100% of their brain’s full potential and although no one in their right mind would accept a cup of tea from sleazy Vernon, Eddie accepts the NZT, no questions asked.

Feeling his brain fizzing with energy, Eddie can now recall the tiniest details from his past, increase his ability to absorb information and interpret large amounts of data. Needing a refill, Eddie visits Vernon but finds him dead and steals his stash of NZT. Armed with a big bag of wonder pills, Eddie’s life takes off and like any bloke he sets his sights on girls, fast cars and jetting off to exotic locales for more girls and more fast cars. Eddie soon turns his now preternatural understanding of the stock market to his advantage, inevitably attracting a shark.

Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) recruits Eddie but the drug’s side effects begin to kick in, including headaches and blackouts, during which he may or may not have killed someone. On top of that, there’s someone killing NZT users and Eddie’s next on the list AND he’s got a psychotic loan shark on his back.

Based on the novel Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, Limitless is a cautionary tale which caters to wish-fulfilment rather than drug taking; if anything it glorifies pill-popping. The consequences of doing drugs are never weighed or deliberated over and only one minor character trying NZT and choosing not to do so again. On the upside, Burger has a visually interesting way of portraying scenes in which Eddie is ‘tripping’: the saturation levels increase, multiple Eddies appear scenes and his goals manifest themselves in his surroundings, such as letters tumbling around him as he writes. Burger also uses a ‘super-zoom’ whereby he drags you through the city in a state of hyperreality, and though this effect may induce a mild headache it’s worth it to get an insight into the power of NZT.

It’s a shame the plot isn’t as engaging. It’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth regarding the twists and turns of the narrative and, as charming as Cooper is, the plot proves overwhelming for him. He’s a more than competent actor and this is a decent start but hopefully he’ll next appear in something that isn’t so convoluted.

Thanks to Cooper carrying the bulk of the film, the supporting cast are left nothing to do but fill underwritten parts, like the usually reliable De Niro sleepwalking through a role which is barely more than a cameo. Abbie Cornish is relegated to the boring girlfriend/ voice of reason and Anna Friel pops up briefly to wrestle with an American accent.

The exhilarating lifestyle that Eddie leads and Neil Burger’s slick camerawork are both good reasons to see this movie, but if you’re searching for a great script, you’ll need to keep looking because Limitless is definitely limited.

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