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Film Review – Limitless

Limitless film poster


Staring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro & Abbie Cornish
Director: Neil Burger

Rising star Bradley Cooper’s latest offering is an exciting fast paced thriller. The story starts with a deadbeat writer’s chance meeting with an old acquaintance, a former brother in law who now deals in an exclusive drug named “NZT”. The writer, Eddie (Cooper) reluctantly takes the drug and it is revealed that this chemical cocktail unleashes the full 100% of a human’s brain power. Within days Eddie finishes the book he hadn’t even started prior, he finds himself addicted and returns to his former brother in law to find him dead and his apartment in up turned in a supposed search for the drugs. Eddie finds a large amount of the drug and what follows next is his rise to glory while being pursued by sinister characters, looking for their own taste of this magic elixir.

Eddie makes his rise through the social/business world, operating on 100% of his brain he has become an expert on everything. But then he begins to learn of the side affect, the withdrawals and thundering decline to normality. Eddie rises the business chain to become an advisor to become an advisor to Carl Van Loon (de Niro), a no nonsense business guy, Eddie finds himself trying to fend off his pursuers, while hiding the truth of his brilliance.

The film keeps a fast pace throughout, and much like NZT, there are moments of pure brilliant direction by Burger (a fighting scene we’re Eddie learns how to fight by remembering old TV shows), followed by lulls into samey thriller action. It’s an interesting premise that seems somewhat under tapped in the film. I mean the theory goes that we as humans only operate 20% of our brain power, so to unlock that additional 80% would mean a massive jump in our memories, cognitive process etc. Eddie seems unclear exactly what he is doing with these new powers. It is insinuated that he is aiming for some higher goal but that goal is never revealed, also a lot of the problems Eddie finds himself in could be easily resolved for a person of moderate intellect never mind a savant.

For instance, Eddie is pursued by dim-witted Russian loan shark, who is looking for his own supply of NZT off Eddie. Now it may be my psychotic tendencies coming to the fore but I don’t understand why Eddie doesn’t use his new abilities to kill the loan shark with a claw hammer and ingeniously hide his body as opposed to giving him the tablet (which is what ultimately does) and giving a him the full use of his brain (not very far sighted).

The story is hokum but enjoyable and while there are obvious plot faults this isn’t Shakespeare. Bob de Niro is more incidental, the role has no weight and truthfully, his name was only added to sell the picture. Truthfully, the film is all about Cooper, who plays the paranoid genius/addict with aplomb.

Overall, Limitless won’t win any Oscars nor is it meant to, this is a Saturday night film and it performs this role excellently.

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – May 2011 (Issue 4)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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