Review: Limitless

Posted: March 17, 2011 in Film Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper in a scene in LimitlessIt’s been said we only use a fifth of our brain to complete everyday tasks. It’s been suggested that if we could unlock the other four-fifths, we could do extraordinary things, such as levitate or move objects telekinetically. But what if the result wasn’t that extravagant? What if it simply made you intellectually superior in every way? The possibilities would be endless.

Aspiring author Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is suffering from chronic writer’s block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT: a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and charm anyone he meets – as long as he keeps taking the untested drug. Soon Eddie takes Wall Street by storm, parlaying a small stake into millions. His accomplishments catch the eye of mega-mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history. But they also bring Eddie to the attention of people willing to do anything to get their hands on his stash of NZT. With his life in jeopardy and the drug’s brutal side effects taking their toll, Eddie dodges mysterious stalkers, a vicious gangster and an intense police investigation as he attempts to hang on to his dwindling supply long enough to outwit his enemies.

Eddie is the perfect guy for something like this to happen to; he has ambition, but no motivation. However, as the magic little pill organizes and utilizes the rest of his brain, he’s able to accomplish things even he never thought possible. The quickness of his rise in certain arenas, however, is illogical as even a brilliant man needs to pay his dues to some extent. Nonetheless, Eddie’s chemically-induced wit, charming personality and confidence shoots him straight to the top of Forbes’ list of achievers and a couple of less pleasant lists.

The film’s first act is comedic as Eddie stumbles through life with little direction. He’s funny with a lot of one-liners and his short attention span is entertaining. However, the narrative takes a turn for the serious when Eddie realizes he’s being followed. The film quickly evolves into a thriller. He’s constantly looking behind him and obtaining all the security money can buy. But in the end, his only protection is his enhanced mind (and a really disgusting act of desperation).

It takes a certain type of man to portray a character like Eddie Morra. He must be able to transform from a ne’er-do-well to an overnight success; display a potential for more in even his lowest moments; and be so likeable that you want him to succeed in every situation. Cooper was definitely the man for the job. Luckily for him and audiences, Shia Labeouf, who was originally casted in the role, had to pull out of the picture. I don’t think it would have been as good a film if he hadn’t been replaced by Cooper.

The Hangover may have elevated Cooper’s acting profile, but Limitless proves he’s capable of much more.

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