Limitless – A pill a day…

limitless-poster-7Fresh from playing Face in the high-octane, brilliantly bonkers A-Team Movie, Bradley Cooper continues with the running, jumping and relentless grinning in novel adaptation Limitless. Based on techno-thriller The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, Limitless follows writer Eddie Morra as he discovers a sneaky shortcut to Enlightenment…

Drug peddler and Eddie’s ex-brother-in-law Vernon Grant offers our scruffy protagonist a random sample of NZT, which the obviously trustworthy and reliable gent says will allow any user to open up 100% of their brain’s potential. Eddie, suffering from writer’s block and laziness, drops his magic bean and becomes Super Eddie.

He finishes his book, impresses his agent and generally shifts up several gears in all facets of his life. The grisly demon that is withdrawal leads him back to Vernon who, oddly, asks Eddie to do his dry cleaning before he can have more NZT. Upon Eddie’s return Vernon is dead, and so begins a sort of cat and mouse game where there are lots of cats, some of them Russian, and the mouse has nice hair.

Along the way, Eddie encounters wealthy businessman Carl van Loon, who looks suspiciously like Robert De Niro, and must also contend with the erratic nature of his relationship with Lindy, played by Aussie stunner Abbie Cornish (Somersault, Sucker Punch), as well as the attentions of a mafia thug called Gennady, and a man in a tan coat who can only be described as persistent.

The premise of Limitless relies on a now defunct myth that once claimed we only use 10-20% of our brain power. This fanciful bit of fallacy has been pounded into pulp by scientific overlords such as Barry Gordon and Barry Beyerstein, as well as those blokes on MythBusters. This leaves the story in a bit of a shambles. But then if we want to go down that route then we aren’t allowed explosions in space, and no-one wants that.

The first hour of Limitless is bright and enjoyable, and Cooper is a good leading man possessing the charisma required for an actor that appears in almost every scene. He charms his way through his scenes in most of his films, and this is a strength that will guarantee his place on Hollywood’s big screen for many years.

However, there is little he can do to lift the final act of a movie that doesn’t really know where to go. It’s almost as if someone has green-lit the project because there’s an original premise, a rising lead and De Niro’s up for it. These may well be reasons to move forward with a project, but the pacing of Limitless is untidy and ultimately unsatisfactory, with an almost pointless, numbing conclusion. Perhaps director Neil Burger could have stepped in with regards to the script’s uneven nature, as he has his own screenplay credits, but arguably he does not yet possess the clout to make that kind of call against studio approval.

Limitless has many plus points though, including some truly stunning cinematography from Jo Willems, who did equally brilliant jobs on 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy. Aside from another highly watchable, entertaining effort from Cooper, Abbie Cornish continues to impress, although she is a little underused, and De Niro is always a stellar addition to any cast. Neil Burger has crafted an hour of fun, pulsating cinema and more is sure to come from him, it’s just a shame about the rest of the movie.

Limitless is a lively, thriller, but… er… limited.

DVD Rental Rating 7/10

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