Limitless (2011)

March 26, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Users say that the first hit of heroin is like being kissed by God. In Limitless, the fictional drug called NZT makes one become a god. Neil Burger directs a tightly constructed, aesthetically pleasing story about  a drug that transcends the mind to work at its full potential. The film is vastly entertaining, with a unique and always-interesting story that’s led by a charismatic, engaging performance from Bradley Cooper.

Director Neil Burger visually molds this film to be a psychedelic trip that is a wonderment for the eyes. The reason for the warping visuals is because Burger places the audience in the mind of Eddie Mora, the main character who takes the NZT miracle drug. Burger applies such visual contortions as fish-eye views, a tunneling vision one gets from being sandwiched by mirrors, and clever insertions of text or numbers running through Eddie’s mind; such as raining letters or numbers flipping on the ceiling. All the flash and flare work and make this film more optically pleasing than any film selling the 3-D gimmick.

Bradley Cooper, mainly known for his role in the Hangover, shines in this role as Eddie Mora. Cooper plays the grungy, broken-down writer well enough that you can smell his showerless stench through the screen; however, when he his upgraded by NZT, he plays the smooth, intelligent hot shot with ease. There’s always a sense of urgency and hunger in his eyes for more power, whether he’s fiending for a another pop or controlling his world through his biting knowledge with NZT. Cooper displays a tight balance of vulnerability and charisma throughout the film.

At the center of it all, the story is about greed and power; a chase to be something we can’t even fathom for a millisecond: perfect. As a film, Limitless is an over-the-counter drug that works for what it is: a clever, smarter-than-average flick, boasting an engaging lead performance. Maybe one day someone will combine all the drugs of reality,  take away all the negative side-effects, and get something close to NZT; for right now, we can always pretend in the Limitless world.

Potential Drawbacks:

There are always nit-picky moments and plot-holes that pop-up in stories with complex concepts, and Limitless isn’t good enough to escape  all of them. Some may have the “he could’ve done this” syndrome while watching the film. Why didn’t Eddie do away with Gennady, the loan shark, earlier? Where did the drug come from? If the drug makes you a genius, why did Eddie have dumb moments while on it? And so on.

At times the narration works, and at times it’s atrocious. Narration is a difficult thing to perfect, but more often than not it becomes tedious reviewing of what can already be seen on the screen, and that’s what happens on occasion in this film.

Robert DeNiro finally lands a role in another solid film; however, he has very limited screen-time and not much to do. DeNiro’s talents are wasted once again.

Film Recommendations:

Dark City
the Adjustment Bureau

NZT: the Clear Pill

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