Limitless [2011]

Jump already.

Imagine if a drug could increase your brain speed and awareness, opening up your frontal lobe and the rest of your gray matter, allowing you to utilize all of your brain. Imagine if you could not only absorb information at incredible rates of speed, but could utilize said info to effortlessly out-think those around you, trumping competitors in terms of creativity, analysis and outpout? No, I’m not talking about crank or blow. I’m talking about a fictional experimental compound, NZT-28, the source of Limitless’ protagonist’s seemingly boundless powers.

Title screen

Limitless stars People Magazine’s most recent Sexiest Man Alive, Bradley Cooper, as Eddie Morra, a strung-out wannabe writer whose appearance and lifetsyle are one step away from outright homelessness. He’s mooched off his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), for too long, and her final “goodbye” sends him reeling–luckily he soon runs into an older dealer acquaintance who offers him a sample of a substance that will change Eddie’s life, propelling him to phenomenal heights, but not with a number of hiccups along the way.

Cooper and Cornish

This is a slick Hollywood drug movie done right–an enthralling plot, a solid script courtesy of Leslie Dixon and a great lead performance by Cooper make this film deliciously enjoyable in a guilty pleasure kind of way–much like drugs themselves. Think Drugstore Cowboy or Trainspotting, not Blow. The CG-laden visuals, too-slick soundtrack and hand-holding voiceover are actually done well. I usually shy away from this type of commercial Hollywood dribble, but Limitless is flashy and fun in a salacious kind of way. It’s impossible not to feel Eddie’s surge of power along with him when he pops the little clear pills, nor to cheer him on as he attains greatness. This Faustian tale is hardly original, but it succeeds in feeling fun and compelling in a unique way.

Multiple Eddies.

Robert Deniro’s appearance as mentor energy tycoon Carl Van Loon was personally almost buyable, but should please the masses. A monologue later on in the film provides a glimpse of Deniro’s inner talents, but he’s just so… Deniro. Ever since his catholic priest in Sleepers it’s hard for me to see Deniro as anything but Casino‘s Sam Rothstein. He always talks and acts the same way. A rewatch of Heat shows the film awkwardly dated (note I’m a big Michael Mann fan) and proves Pacino a class or two ahead of Deniro. But enough of this diatribe, he does his best as Van Loon, and the character’s interplay with Eddie is juicy and exciting, somewhat reminiscent of the relationship between Sheen’s Bud Fox and Douglas’ Gordon Gekko in the original Wall Street. 

"I once was blind but now I see."

There are a couple logical lapses or awkward scenes in the film–a scene in Central Park that culminates in Cornish swinging a little girl at a pursuer comes to mind–but the overall arc of the film is good. And like all good films, Limitless‘ ending doesn’t dissapoint–it’s a quick and satisfying tie up of a plot that, at times, intentionally seems to be spiraling away from itself  like the beginning of a Salvia trip. I had a smile on my face as the credits roled. The film’s commercial production and PG-13 rating make it friendly for teeny bopper audiences, but this slick drug film has plenty for adults to get excited about as well. Just sit back and allow your mind to be opened–the NZT will do the work for you.

Aaaaaaand Deniro makes an appearance.

Logan’s Rating: 7/10

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