If this pill is actually out there, I need to get better dealers.
With his writing career tanking and his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) casting him off, ex-druggie Eddie Morra’s (Bradley Cooper) fortunes finally turn around when he’s given a mysterious drug that provides astonishing mental powers — but its deadly side effects threaten his sanity. Adding to Eddie’s misery are shadowy businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who wants to exploit his new genius, and the other users willing to kill for his stash.
What if there really was a drug out there that could make you use all 100% of your brain? Well, I have a feeling that I would use it to more advantage than this guy did.
Director Neil Burger does something here that should actually be rewarded, because he takes this material and brings it to life with his constant flair to the screen. He does a smart, creative job visually portraying the effects of NZT by using angles, lenses, colors, and all sorts of other effects to show how Eddie thinks and sees the world, thus putting us in the mind of him.
The only let-down is that the script doesn’t do anything spectacular and brings this film down a whole bunch of notches. I liked the social commentary here about our desire to take short cuts for self-improvement, and our obsession of instant success. There is also little tidbits here and there of humor that works, but then the film changes about half-way through and starts to become a yawn. The film seems to play a back-and-forth battle between talking about the side-effects of the drugs on Eddie, and who knows about the drugs, and wants them. These two story lines just seem conflicted and take away from the overall effect of the film and actually bring it to more predictable territory which was really a bummer. Also, there were some action scenes here that worked, but they seemed random and just put in there to keep the film entertaining.
Bradley Cooper has been going all around the film industry for awhile now looking for that perfect leading man role, and I think he may just have found it here as Eddie Morra. We never seen Cooper play a slobby loser, but he totally pulls it off making for a great contrast to him on NZT which showcases Cooper’s talents as a smooth-talking and charming handsome devil. By the end of the film, I don’t know what they were trying to do with Eddie here, because it’s like they were wondering if he’s a villain or not, but still Cooper proves that he can be a leading man, possibly a great one. Abbie Cornish has a couple of scenes here and there, and she does a good job, I just wish she was a little more rounded than the screenplay had her out to be. Robert De Niro has done some pretty crap movies lately, but Limitless uses his mobster persona well with him controlling every scene he’s in. It’s not a perfect performance by any means, but it just shows that signature stage presence that De Niro has and uses oh so well.
Consensus: Director Neil Burger uses a lot of different and crazy visuals to effectively create a state of mind when on drugs, and Bradley Cooper is good in this lead role, but the script lets-down Limitless with its many missed opportunities, and confusing outcomes.