Limitless

2011

Relativity Media

Directed by Neil Burger

Produced by Leslie Dixon and Ryan Kavanaugh

Screenplay by Leslie Dixon

Based on the novel “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn

LIMITLESS is the latest entry in what I call Genie Movies.  You know how this goes: Our Hero finds a bottle containing a genie.  He opens it up and the genie proceeds to give Our Hero everything he wants.  Women, money, fame, the ability to hit perfect home runs, a mint condition copy of “Fantastic Four” #1.  But then the downside kicks in and Our Hero realizes that the consequences of his wishes get him into trouble.  So he makes more wishes to correct the mistakes of the previous wishes and that gets him into even worse trouble.  And then he gets the bright idea of wishing the genie back into the bottle and then the real horror of his situation punches him dead in his eye: once the genie is let out of his bottle, there’s no way to put him back in.

Our Hero this time around is Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) an alcoholic writer who is on the verge of having to return his book advance because he’s spending more time at the local pub talking about his book rather than writing it.  His girlfriend Lindy (Abby Cornish) leaves him.  Not because she doesn’t love him but because he has no ambition, no direction, no focus.

One day while on his way to the bar, Eddie runs into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) and over drinks, Eddie pours out his tale of woe.  Amazingly, Vernon has the proverbial bottle with a genie in it.  In this instance the genie is a small clear pill that is a new drug, NZT-48.  A drug Vernon claims will make Eddie smarter.

Eddie figures he’s got nothing to lose and so pops the pill.   Four days after that he’s finished his book.  Eddie’s more focused than he’s ever been.  He can remember everything he’s ever seen, heard or read in his life.  Google googles him for information.  His increased deductive reasoning abilities make him capable of looking at you and telling what you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner a year ago.  And best of all, he is able to use his newfound intelligence to discern significant patterns in massive amounts of otherwise seemingly unrelated information.  This enables him to amass a tremendous fortune playing The Stock Market.

Such spectacular success brings him to the attention of quite a few folks.  There’s Carl Von Loon (Robert DeNiro) a ruthless businessman involved in a potentially world changing energy deal.  Von Loon quickly makes it clear that if Eddie isn’t working for him, then he ain’t working.  Then there’s a strange guy wearing a tan coat that seems to be everywhere Eddie is.  And there’s Gennady (Andrew Howard) a Russian mobster who gets his hands on a tab of NZT-48 and likes what it’s doing to him.  And wants more of it.  A lot more.

And if that wasn’t enough, his daily ingesting of the drug is apparently having side effects.  He’s losing whole days and there’s the possibility he may have killed someone during one of his blackouts.  By now, not only can he not put the genie back in the bottle, said genie is quite enthusiastically kicking him in his ass.  His NZT-48 enhanced intelligence got him into this but can it get him out?

I knew the basic premise of LIMITLESS going in but I didn’t know it would be so much fun.  It actually starts off like a comedy and gradually shifts gears as the story gets darker and more serious.  And it’s done so smoothly that before you know it you’ve gone from laughing to flinching.  Especially during the really bloody resolution to one of Eddie’s problems.

A large part of what makes this movie so interesting to watch is the very original visual style the director uses to show how the drug is working on Eddie.  Those of you reading this who are writers will probably be just as tickled as I was at the scene where Eddie’s writer’s block is broken and the words start flowing.

Bradley Cooper is really coming along as an actor.  He’s a good-looking guy but he’s not afraid to come off looking really greasy and cruddy looking as he does in the beginning of this movie.  He looks nothing like the Eddie he becomes once he starts taking the drug.  I kinda liked that as it gave the movie a sort of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde vibe to Eddie.  Robert DeNiro is really cool in this movie as he never tries to steal a scene or make a scene of his more than what it’s supposed to be.  If anybody’s a scene stealer in the movie, it’s Andrew Howard.  Watching how NZT-48 works his magic on him is hilarious and bone-chilling at the same time.

So should you see LIMITLESS?  Absolutely.  It’s a thriller that does exactly what a thriller is supposed to do: thrill.  And does it in dynamite style.  Enjoy.

105 minutes

PG-13

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