21 Apr

Title: Limitless
Neil Burger
Writer: Leslie Dixon, based on the novel by Alan Glynn
Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language
105 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:

I saw Limitless earlier today, and I found myself really liking it, much more than I initially thought I would. I mean, the script, adapted from the novel The Dark Fields by Leslie Dixon, who has also penned Mrs. Doubtfire and Hairspray, definitely lacked in quality in more than a few places but that was made up by a very solid directing hand from Neil Burger who, as we know from The Illusionist, is guy that has the visual flare and great touch to make for great entertainment.

Not to mention that this is Bradley Cooper’s first real crack at carrying a movie all by himself, and he more than succeeds at it. Here’s a guy who first rose to fame doing televison, as Will Tippin in the awesome Alias, and then in the short-lived but pretty good Jack & Bobby. After that he had a cool supporting turn as the bad guy in 2005’s The Wedding Crashers, before really hitting the big times with 2009’s surprise box office comedy smash The Hangover and then last year when he was part of another foursome as he played Face in The A-Team. On those two last films he made a name for himself by leading the film, but he was still leading it with three other people, on Limitless he’s all by himself, his first real test as a Hollywood leading man, and he makes the most out of it. Not to mention that the role was originally cast with Shia LaBeouf, so I dare say we got lucky with the car accident that injured his arm and forced him to drop out.

Limitless is not the most perfect movie out there, not even close, and as I said the script is full of moments that make you go “No, that’s just not right”, but you just can’t let yourselves to be bothered with all those moments, and should instead let yourself get immersed in it and realize just how much of a good time this film can be. Because that’s what Limitless has going for it that helps it succeed so much, it’s seriously fun as hell, a huge adrenaline rush that won’t give you many dull moments for you to ponder about the many holes in its script, but will instead have you loving it because of its very reliable star, as well as supporting turns by Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish and Anna Friel.

Because that’s really what made Limitless so appealing to me, the fact that the people put in front of the cameras can act. I mean Mr. Cooper, as a struggling writer, obviously is charming and has a nice smile, and Abbie Cornish, who plays the girlfriend who just dumped him, is beautiful, but these two can also act really well, and that makes all the difference in the world for a film like this, a film that has to get away with implausible situations, because if those situations are at least well acted then we’ll have little problem at just believing them while we continue eating from our box of over-priced popcorn.

Mr. Cooper plays Eddie who’s a writer who’s experiencing a severe case of writer’s block that’s seemingly affecting every other aspect of his life as well, as his girlfriend at first dumps him. And then one day he bumps into his ex-brother-in-law who’s a representative for this pharmaceutical company. You know how many times we’re told that our brains only function to a very limited percentage of their actual capacity? Well, Eddie’s told by him that his company has designed this new wonder drug that’s capable of awakening that dormant potential. Eddie’s life is in shambles right now, so he figures he’s got nothing to lose, and agrees to try it out, just out of curiosity as he says.

And then we get the amped up version of Eddie, a guy who no longer has a writer’s block, who starts looking and dressing a lot more like the Bradley Cooper we all know, a guy who starts learning languages and picking up all sorts of skills, and a guy who starts making a lot of money with the help of a Wall Street tycoon played by Mr. De Niro. So here we get where the title comes from, Eddie’s potential is now limitless, but, as Uncle Ben once said, with great power comes great responsibility, and we see Eddie starting to deal with side effects and with the trouble that comes from being addicted to such an incredible drug.

This is a cool movie because it never takes itself too seriously. I mean, the performance by Mr. Cooper is fantastic, and Ms. Cornish and Ms. Friel are great, as well as Mr. De Niro who actually does some of the best work we’ve seen him do in a while here, but this is a film that just wants us to have fun watching it.

And even though it’s easy to imagine how this one could have started turning into a sort of critic against the pharmaceutical industry, or into some moral tale about drugs, it never really takes that road, which is good because if it had then all the implausibilities of its script would have been painfully obvious, and Ms. Cornish as the on-again off-again girlfriend is all the moral compass we really need in a film like this.

I really liked Limitless, because I thought it would be a really dumb film and what it was was a really fun one, not a particularly smart one because there were plot holes and it was honestly rather badly structured, but it moved so damn fast and was just so hyperactive when Eddie went into his drugged mode with its heightened colors and letters dropping from the screen to show the writer’s block was gone that we don’t care about the logic of it all. Eddie becomes shallow when he gets the drug, he uses it to finish work fast, to make money and to get laid and, honestly, how many of us wouldn’t do just that?

Grade: B


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