Cinema Review: Limitless
Director: Neil Burger
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Limitless creatively portrays the power of the human brain if we were able to access our its full potential as opposed to the 20% we are naturally able to do. Based on a book called The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, it opens with beleaguered protagonist Edward Morra suffering from a severe case of writer’s block, living in a filthy apartment and rocking an equally dirty and dishevelled look.
Such is his visible degradation, that when he accidentally bumps into his ex-girlfriend’s brother Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) in the street, one of Vernon’s first questions is “Man, are you homeless?” Cue the humorous and witty undertones that keep a film with the potential to teeter over the brink into a half-hearted recycled moral story about greed firmly on the welcome side of comedy and thriller. It’s really one of the best escapism films that I have seen.
Eddie’s meeting with Vernon triggers the whole plot as Vernon, out of alleged kindness, decides to hand over for free (even though it allegedly costs $800 a pop) NZT-48, a pill to help drag Eddie out of his visibly pathetic state. Eddie, already well acquainted with Vernon’s more than crooked drug-fuelled past, understandably refuses it at first. However, contemplation on his recent break-up with his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) and the current downward spiral of his life pushes him over the edge. The pill turns out to give him the ability to use his brain to its maximum potential.
And that is about as much of the storyline I am willing to reveal. The film tracks Eddie’s life as he puts this new ability to use and charts the amazing and destructive impact it has, more than once propelling him into the paths of unscrupulous people and putting his life in danger.
Bradley Cooper is not the only well-known face to feature in this film. There’s Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon, the wealthy businessman whose attention Eddie attracts with his dramatic success on the Stock Market, and Anna Friel as Melissa Gant, Vernon’s sister and Eddie’s ex-wife. De Niro more or less plays his usual role of someone you don’t want to rub the wrong way, while Friel’s role, to be honest, isn’t essential for the plot to work.
What is brilliant about Limitless is that unlike other films based on supernatural or extraordinary abilities, the extent of how limitless Eddie’s skills are depends on the extent of his original intelligence – what he had already seen, read, or heard. The pill does not give the same amount of brilliance to everyone who takes it. This aspect makes the film more humanly believable and makes you consider – even if only for a few moments – what you could achieve with it.
I applaud the cinematography too. The special effects enhance the plot as opposed to being overbearing or trying cover up holes in its construction.
Limitless is a great film that I highly recommend. Bradley Cooper plays the character of Eddie Morra with a charisma that is so engaging that despite some of Eddie’s foolish decisions, you become endeared to him. Limitless points out the perils of having too much power but in a way that’s comical, serious and thrilling.