After being hugely disappointed by Transformers 3, I wanted to write a review that wasn’t so angry. About a film that I actually enjoyed. Luckily, I still had Limitless in my review stockpile and, being the genius that I am, I put two and two together and here we are:

Limitless (2011)

According to the well-known saying, we, the silly little meatbags that we are, only use 10% of our brain. It’s a great analogy for the vastness of human potential, a great philosophical jump-off point for what could be done if we could tap into the brain’s true power and a completely and utterly wrong fucking statement. Hate to bring my boring mate Science to Limitless‘ party, but we use almost all of our brains all of the time. Taking a pill that ensured the usage of 100% of your brain would probably have some adverse effect, like messing with automatic functions like breathing. Unfortunately, at no point does this happen to Bradley Cooper.
“Your powers are a gift from God or whoever the hell wrote your life script.”

Limitless is the story of Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a down-and-out writer who takes an experimental drug called NZT, a clear pill that allows him to harness 100% of his brain’s power. He becomes more perceptive, more driven and can think way faster and clearer than before. Understandably, Eddie uses it to become richer and more respected, immersing himself in the lucrative business of the stock trading and soon partners with hugely powerful businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). However, Eddie soon discovers that he isn’t the only one aware of the drug and its amazing properties and that there are people out there willing to do anything to get their next fix. I liked the story. The plot kept me interested throughout and whilst silly, it’s damn enjoyable. It’s your standard “loser turns his life around with magical macguffin but finds it’s not all sunshine” plot, but it does well with it. Bradley Cooper impressed me with his ability to actually act, having only seen him in the terrible Hangover movies and the A-Team film. I thought Abbie Cornish was good, but underused and Robert De Niro was fine being De Niro. I love that man.

Despite being all snarky in the opening paragraph, I like the whole concept. You become the perfect version of you. You can recall half memories and glimpsed information like it was nothing. Eddie becomes a true Renaissance man, learning languages and playing the stock market like a pro in a few days. I especially loved the fight scene where Eddie calls upon a childhood viewing of Way of the Dragon, a Muhammad Ali fight and a self-defence video to scrap his way out of trouble. It’s innovative and interesting- two “i” words I rarely get to type in regards to action beats. Having said that, there is a chase scene where a good character (spoiler free, bitches) on NZT thinks their way out of a chase with a would-be murderer by using a small child as an offensive weapon. I laughed (as I’m sure the film intended) but it’s still ridiculous and rather at odds with the rest of the film.

The thing I like about Limitless is the whole feeling of it. I know that’s a vague, possibly twattish thing to say, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it. I liked what it was bringing to the table. It’s an indie movie writ large. From the impressive, but nauseating opening titles (seriously, that endless zoom effect on the big screen made me feel a bit sick) to the bright, saturated colours used to show Eddie on NZT, it’s fun. It reminded me of a more restrained Scott Pilgrim at times, especially when it shows Eddie furiously typing on his laptop, with 3D letters and words falling all around him.

It’s a decent thriller too. Whilst things are rosy for a time, Eddie soon discovers the more NZT he takes, the more frequently he blacks out, waking up in strange places with no memory of the preceding events. We understand and feel his need for the drug, but ultimately know that it’s bad for him. Hell, we know it’s going to lead him down a bad road as the film opens up on Morra, standing atop a penthouse balcony, bad dudes breaking the door down behind him and very few options available to him other than giving the pavement a 40-storey French kiss. Whilst I’ve seen this kind of thing before, I still found it all to be very compelling.

“A tablet a day and I was limitless…”

Limitless isn’t the smartest film out there, but it’s definitely one of the more entertaining ones. It made me think twice about writing off Bradley Cooper as just a cheesy grin and a marketable torso and kept me hooked ’til the credits rolled. It’s certainly worth a viewing, at the very least for the great central concept. Just try not to think about it too much when you do.

2 thoughts on “Limitless”

  1. I wasn't expecting a particularly good review for this film, but you've made it sound fun. I think this may be one to look out for in the bargain DVD bins in eight or so months time 😀

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