Directed by: Neil Burger
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, Ana Friel
Limitless is the little film that could or the big experiment if you prefer. It’s a modestly budgeted film from a smaller studio that hedged its film on Bradley Cooper. Sure Cooper has been great in some ensemble films like The Hangover and A-Team but not as the sole headliner for a film, until now.
Cooper plays Eddie, a writer with an extreme case of writer’s block. He in fact references The Shining during one of his internal monologues. He’s a mess living like a homeless man who just happens to have a dump of an apartment and losing his longtime girlfriend. Everything’s on a downward spiral until he runs into the brother of his ex-wife. The brother works for a pharmaceutical company working on a new drug that allows the user to access 100% of their brain rather than the typical 20% that humans normally utilize. Like a classic dealer he pushes the first $800 pill on Eddie. In an act of desperation Eddie does take that pill and the world opens up to him.
Eddie blazes through the book he was writing and then moves forward on a new plan he formulates in his head to make a real impact on the world. He’s going to do this by making lots of money! Now the drug is supposed to allow a person to access more of their brain power, not change what they’re good at. Eddie is a writer but oddly once he accesses his complete brain he chooses to become a financial wizard rather than a deep thinking writer that crafts something that is truly groundbreaking. Maybe this choice is a commentary on humanity. At any rate, during his ride to wealth he meets Robert De Niro the owner of the firm that Eddie has taken a job at and something of a financial and social wizard himself.
No miracle comes without some sort of repercussions and once this begins to happen the film gets frantic and It maintains that momentum all the way to the closing credits. What does prolonged use of the drug cause? This film throws so many twists at you by the end that it begins to feel like the world’s most complicated pretzel. Many fo the twists are obvious but they are some well executed that the story continues to be entertaining and the twists that slip up on your slap you across the face.
Limitless is one of those films that wants to be hip and clever and its main character is the same. His monologues peppered throughout the film represent a level of arrogance in the character, and in the story itself that are more ofen than not backed up with action. That’s not to say that the “I’m cooler than you” writing isn’t a little much here and there. For a film that’s so character-centric the visual style of it is quite surprising. The director brings a vision to the film that always offers up something interesting to look at. Cooper is perfect in this role playing both the messy failure and the successful cool guy. De Niro has played the man on top in most of his films so he knows how to do that but he gets a little extra to do in this film by the end. Limitless is a nice to look at well acted and written mystery that’s probably better than you’ll expect it to be.