Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Limitless
Limitless wasn’t quite what I expected – but that’s OK. Actually I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was more of a popcorn movie than a “serious” action film – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The roguishly handsome Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a self-proclaimed writer who has yet to, you know… actually WRITE anything. He’s got ultimate writer’s block – can’t even get the first word of his novel typed on the computer. He looks like a homeless guy and has been dumped by his got-her-stuff-together (not in a bad way) girlfriend. Eddie isn’t too happy with himself, and in a moment of honesty admits to someone he hasn’t seen in a very long time that things aren’t going well in his life.
Well this friend has just what the doctor ordered in the way of a new pill that allows people at access 100% of their brain (as opposed to 20%, even though I’ve always heard it stated as 10%). Eddie is skeptical at first but figures he has nothing to lose – and when he takes the pill the results are nothing short of a revelation. It’s like he’s been seeing things through a fog and now a bright light is being shined on the world around him with everything in super-sharp focus. He can recall EVERYTHING he’s ever seen or learned instantly and process it as needed.
The scene in which this first happens is done very well, with director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) effectively putting us in Eddie’s place not only experiencing the revelation of what’s happening but the process of him putting everything together on the fly, smoothly and seamlessly. Burger does a lot of interesting stuff in the film – some might call it gimmicky. The creative visual effects combined with Bradley Cooper’s voice over had me thinking a lot about David Fincher’s Fight Club. This film isn’t anywhere close to that as far as depth of character and story – but it felt like…. “Fight Club Lite.” And I don’t mean that in a negative way.
We get to go along for the exhilarating ride for a while, but soon things get ugly and it becomes clear that other people not only know about this drug, but will stop at nothing to get it. Eddie secures a finite supply and commences transforming his life on turbo charge. As you can imagine, in addition to the fact there are others who want the drug, the benefits don’t come without a down side.
The film rests almost completely on the shoulders of Bradley Cooper and his charm, and he manages to do the job fairly well. He’s so affable and good looking that you can’t help but cut the guy slack when he’s on screen. On the other side of the spectrum we have Robert DeNiro being Robert DeNiro (I love when he does that). In a small supporting role we also have Andrew Howard as a Russian mobster not to be messed with, and his character and performance are also one of the more enjoyable things about the film.
Limitless isn’t deep, but it has a fairly smart script that moves along nicely written by Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire, Pay it Forward, The Thomas Crowne Affair). The screenplay is based on a novel by Alan Glynn, with which I’m completely unfamiliar – so I have no idea how much it might have diverged from the source material.
This is more of a popcorn movie than I had expected – I went in hoping for something with a bit more substance and perhaps commentary and consequences regarding the use of a fantasy drug that many of us would probably not turn down, but while there was surface level attention paid to that, it didn’t really dig into it. The ending was a bit pat but kind of expected based on the tone, but not unsatisfactory.
I was really torn between a 3.5 and a 4 out of 5… I settled on the former because while the film was slick and fairly satisfying, it left me wanting something “meatier” throughout the viewing. In the end I’d say if you go check this out in the hopes of being entertained that it will do the job for you.
Here’s a trailer for Limitless: