Initially, they’re interesting and the act of doing something new that provides a unique feeling, is always welcomed in society (1st act). However, it can become old, and one will feel like they’re just going through the motions. It becomes a necessity rather than pure pleasure. And when this occurs, nobody will want to be around the user (2nd act). When the subject learns how to harness the addiction, friends start to come around once again, and some say the said user is now more enjoyable prior to hitting rock-bottom (3rd act).
This is the pattern the viewing audience will notice when watching this intriguing concept play out on-screen. But like all tempting drugs, there could be harmful side-effects.
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is on the fast-track to worthlessness. He carries himself as if he’s homeless and the once likeable guy oozes depression. Somehow he managed to get a publishing company to pay him an advance on a book idea. Yet the scraggly looking writer can’t even form the first sentence. Add to the fact that his girlfriend Lindy (Abby Cornish) just dumped him, and things are really heading down the toilet for the thirty-something guy. That is until his former brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) randomly bumps into him and says he could change his life. Simply by swallowing a little pharmaceutical pill that has yet to hit the market.
Since everything is going to hell, Eddie figures why not try drugs for the first time. Within thirty seconds, his eyes – more specifically his brain – opens up and he instantly gets a handle on his life. Which then leads him to wanting to get control of his career. But his four-digit IQ isn’t just satisfied with finishing his novel in three days. He needs more challenges. After testing out his new found brain-power via around-the-world adventures, he targets Wall Street. Not cause he’s greedy, but just because he now has the ability to make it happen. And by doing so, he attracts the attention of one of the biggest players in the business in Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro).
While De Niro believe he’s found his golden goose, Eddie continues to indulge on the drug in reckless fashion. Leading him to forget hours of his life. He literally seems to warp in time and can barely recall anything. Eddie also learns that he may not be the only one who has access to this mental Viagra. For shady characters begin to follow his every move and eventually, this little clear pill puts his life in multiple dangers.
This flick fluctuates between intelligence and a touch of laziness. Ironic that a movie about enhanced brain-power actually sees its IQ drop about halfway through. But much like the frequent use of the drug we see our lead character partake in, the effect kicks back in, and the rest of the story rides high all the way to the credits.
Personally, this flick could have ventured into more areas with this particular concept. When the “Eddie” character is on the drug, this flick is running on all cylinders. Cooper’s performance is addicting during these sequences. The only time he suffers is when he has to narrate the story. He speaks to the viewer in the attempt to add another dimension on why his character did certain things. Problem that arises here is that Cooper doesn’t really have a charismatic vocal delivery. Narration was a necessary element based on the set-up of the script, but the narrative failed to bring anything note worthy as far as entertainment value was concerned. It’s just a minor side-effect though.
The script did a few things right while other aspects were just mediocre. The nice thing is none of the creative quirks derailed the product as a whole. Audiences will enjoy how the character is self-aware when he is on the drug. It’s not a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde scenario, despite the lapses of memory every now and then. Plus, the variety of activities the character jumps into all makes sense if any regular person came across this magic pill. Except for the glossed over superpowers. Diving off cliffs unscathed and fighting seven thugs in a subway, stretch this past its respective limits. When it keeps the tone of an American Psycho for example, it’s on point. Venturing beyond the revved up brainpower, is pushing the boundaries where this story should play in.
Overall, Limitless is an above-average student, but isn’t as smart as it thinks it is. Trying to add in a spy-chase subplot was a nice way to balance out the wordy dialogue between Cooper and his co-stars. The narration was hit-and-miss, but the scenarios – the realistic ones – the script inserted the lead into will have the audience involved for the most part. Hey, at least someone in Hollywood went for something new, even though the story never quite reached its full potential.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5