Director: Neil Burger

Notable Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Johnny Whitworth

Rating: PG-13

Review:  Limitless poses the question, what would you do if you were the perfect version of yourself?  Well I like to think I am the perfect version of myself thank you very much, but it would be sick if I had enough focus to write a review in 5 minutes.  Or focus on homework and destroy it.  Or actually want to work out instead of pep talking myself away from a movie.  Anyhoo, Limitless is Bradley Cooper’s first real leading role (minus the lesser known film The Midnight Meat Train) and an opportunity to prove he can carry a film on his own.  Until now, Cooper has always been an ensemble actor like in The Hangover, The A-Team, Valentine’s Day, and Yes Man. The question remained, could he be a strong enough actor to dominate the screen on his own?  The increasingly popular Cooper is known usually for his parts that highlight dashing good looks, a charming persona, and a bad boy attitude; but Limitless stays away from that.  For the first few minutes.  Then Cooper is in full dazzle mode as he delivers a stronger performance than I expected.

Eddie Morra (Cooper) is a slacker writer with no drive or focus.  He looks like a hobo, is stuck in a horrible rut, and his girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) just broke up with him.  In short, Eddie Morra is nothing but a waste of life.  While walking down the street he runs into his ex-brother in law Vernon (Whitworth) who invites him for a drink.  He sees the condition Eddie is in and offers him a new drug called NZT in the process of being approved by the FDA.  He tells Eddie the drug accesses all of your brain, using the full 100% instead of the minimal 20% people believe we use.  Eddie is reluctant at first, but thinks to himself, “could my life get any worse?”  He soon finds that on the new drug, his life only increases quality.  It’s like the world becomes clear to him.  His senses are opened up, he thinks with clarity, he is more focused; Eddie basically did become the perfect version of himself.  He doesn’t waste time on the drug, only showing productivity. But when his “free trial” runs out, Eddie decides to embrace the drug and see how far he can push himself.  But the drug turns out to be much more of a liability than Eddie ever imagined, questioning the safety of prolonged use.  With great power comes great responsibility, and Eddie has to be ready for absolutely anything because getting rich quick makes a lot of people jealous.

De Niro giving his best “You talkin’ to me” face…

For as lackluster I expected Limitless to be, this was a decent enough thriller to pull me through to the other side unharmed.  Although, I use the term thriller loosely.  Never once was I really on the edge of my seat with anticipation, instead watching the story unfold more like a drama.   Unknown tried to be a thriller, with the life threatening actions of Dr. Martin Harris.  Even if it did suck, there was still that aspect of danger on the screen.  Never once did I really feel that Eddie’s life was truly in danger, despite what the plot tried to.  The voice over narration that Cooper delivers as Eddie the entirety of the movie diffuses situations before they even unfolded.  It took away from the sense of urgency in Eddie’s actions and again the “thrilling” aspect of the film.  There’s not much to anticipate when Eddie is talking about after effects of the danger he is walking into. Limitless could have benefitted from a narrative that instead of talking about the future, looked back on situations that had just unfolded.  Talk about the fight scene after it happens, not who wins before it even starts.

Bradley Cooper was a sure surprise to me for his role as Eddie Morra.  He was able to pull off both the grungy, dead beat writer attitude along with the devilishly cunning wall street shark when either character was called upon.  I will admit, I love him so much more as the cunning genius, because he always looks like there is something hidden behind that smile along with the glint in his eye.  He’s the perfect mix of charming and sneaky that can’t help but hint to a whole other layer of his personality.  But the worst/best is how he uses that charm to influence his words, and you just can’t deny him. I guess what I’m getting at is I just uncovered a giant man-crush on Bradley Cooper.  But in all seriousness, Limitless proved to me that Cooper can be more than just the second-hand supplementary character.  No more being stuck playing Jim Carrey’s friend, the douche boyfriend, or just part of a trio.  Bradley Cooper has officially elevated himself out of the status of supporting role and into the shining light of center stage.  As for the rest of the cast, don’t expect to see much of them.  De Niro’s face is plastered all over this project’s advertising, yet he’s rewarded with about 15 minutes of screen time.  Cooper deservingly hogs the screen; just be warned if you are going into Limitless expecting De Niro to have a heavy supporting presence.

Why do I feel like the science in Limitless is not too far away from happening?  We take pills to focus, what’s stopping us from taking the next step.  It poses a very interesting   concept: what would you do given the ability to accomplish anything?  Wold you be in the same job?  Same area?  Would you even be living the same life?  Limitless is as much about self discovery as it is a story about Bradley Cooper trying not to destroy what he’s built up.  But get past the life lessons, and yes, Limitless is about Bradley Cooper achieving greatness, and trying desperately not to crash and burn in his drug induced popularity.  An interesting and intriguing watch once, but don’t expect any replay value here.

Final Rating: 6.5 with full clarity out of 10

Side effects include: Raining Letters


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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