Directed by: Neil Burger
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro
Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Release Date: March 18, 2011
PLOT: A writer named Eddie (Cooper) discovers a top-secret drug which opens his mind It unlocks brain power he didn’t know he had.
WHO’S IT FOR? The concept is intriguing. It really helps if you are a fan of Cooper, but if you’re on the fence, this movie should help push you on to “team Cooper.”
EXPECTATIONS: I had the vibe that this is one of those flicks that squeaks out in March, has a decent opening, then disappears. Plus there’s an “And Robert De Niro” in the credits. Suddenly, that’s not a good thing, right?
Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra: I’ve been a fan since he was Will Tippin on “Alias.” I even told him that after I interviewed The Hangover cast. There are two things that make me root for Eddie early on. 1) He says something like, “I know I shouldn’t look like this unless I have a drug problem.” That proves he’s self-depreciating and knows he’s a schlub. 2) His girlfriend breaks up with him and he still roots for her. Besides that, he has charisma that should prove he can be a leading man given a decent script/material. When he acts smart, you believe him, and thankfully it’s not smug for the most part. This is also one of the rare times it feels necessary for a character to be a writer.
Abbie Cornish as Lindy: She’s the girlfriend who expects more. Women reading this right now, could you turn down the near perfect version of Bradley Cooper? Yeah, that’s what I thought. She’s got the same problem. Plus, Lindy is given one particular moment to shine as she’s being chased. Whether she wants it or not, Lindy is dragged into this world and I’m glad.
Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon: First, it’s only about a 10-15 minute role. Just so you know. But more importantly … Finally! It’s a good side character made better by the presence of De Niro. When’s the last time you could say that? De Niro plays a business tycoon who expects. That means you don’t want to be late for a meeting.
TALKING: Again, the dialogue coming from Cooper lends itself to you absolutely believing he’s the smartest man in the room. The narration feels completely necessary to explain this world and doesn’t get in the way.
SIGHTS: The world widens when Eddie’s on NZT (the mystery drug I have been talking about). This makes sense, and also looks really cool. Director Burger and his team implore a new technique which I will call “super zoom.” It feels/looks like the camera is standing still but you keep zooming and zooming, moving through the city. It’s done in the opening credits, and a few times during the film. It’s cool, though I wish there was once less time it was used.
SOUNDS: “Lonely Blue Boy” by Conway Twitty shows up and it’s a great use of an oldie (but goodie). It fits great in the potential future. The musical score heads toward techno, because after all, when life is in the fast lane, isn’t techno always playing?
BEST SCENE: The first time Eddie is on the drug. He sees another version of himself, seduces his landlord’s wife, and finished a paper. Yup, I’m in. Take more drugs please.
ENDING: It feels like a re-shoot the moment De Niro talks about pharmaceuticals. Big fan of it. Seriously. If it’s a re-shoot, I’m glad. Normally we are taught a lesson in drug-related films.
QUESTIONS: If you are cliff diving, are you really the smartest one in the room or an adrenaline junkie? One moment talking about the “logically outcome” of cliff diving gets us around this situation. Plus, did it kill you that we never know exactly how many pills he has left? Also, is he really off the drug at the end?
REWATCHABILITY: Sure, why not? I don’t feel the need to do it in the theater, but I’ll happily sit through it on Blu-ray. I hope there is a decent commentary to go along with it.
Normally when we’re given a cool premise, we’re given one path and after the film is over I’m saying to myself, “Cool idea, I just wish they would have explored the concept more.” With Limitless just like the title hints at, they go down many paths and really exhaust the subject. That’s a good thing people. They fully explore the world of a drug almost all of us would take at least once. Who doesn’t want to be the best version of themselves? Cooper proves to be a leading man in this sleek thriller about addiction, drive and the American dream. Limitless is a really nice surprise.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10