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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 07.18.11] movie review news scifi action thriller drama

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Year: 2011
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Leslie Dixon, Alan Glynn (Novel)
IMDB: link
Amazon: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8 out of 10

When the myth that we only use 20% of our brains started gaining widespread attention, there was much speculation as to what humanity would be capable of if we could somehow gain access to the other 80% of untapped brain power. Many a science fiction story has been shaped by the idea that we could be some sort of super being, physically superior human computers with the ability to process so much data that it would seem as though we can predict the future. If only. And yet, as unbelievable as it may be, this is the basis for Neil Burger's Limitless.

Adapted from Alan Glynn's "The Dark Fields," the film stars Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a writer with an advance who hasn't managed to write one word of his masterpiece. He's been sliding on a downward hill for a number of years resulting in a loser for whom each day is slightly worst than the last. Limitless opens on a particularly bad day: he gets dumped by his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) who has also been playing double duty as his bank. Just when he thinks he's hit rock bottom, Eddie bumps into his ex-brother-in-law, a scummy dealer who seems to have cleaned himself up. He offers Eddie NZT a new drug, legal but currently unavailable to the public, that allows the user to access all of their brain with spectacular results: enhanced physical ability and mental sharpness open doors for Eddie and seemingly overnight Eddie goes from a nobody to a big player in the stock market.


As is usually the case, things aren't going to end well. They never do when you mix yourself up with something, in this case a drug which alters your brain function, you know so little about. When your brain is moving that fast all the time, burnout is a serious issue and in the case of NZT, it manifests with loss of time. Mix in reckless behaviour and lack of inhibitions and chances are you might end up the suspect in a murder investigation; and so Limitless follows Eddie around as he builds his new life through highs and lows before eventually hitting rock bottom. With a limited supply of NZT and no knowledge of how to synthesize more how do you ensure you don't die or go crazy from the withdrawals? I'm not sure and Burgers film doesn't provide any of the answers.

That's one of the highlights of Limitless; it builds a world where anything is possible, leads the central character though ups and downs but stops short of providing any answers. There are no clues as to where NZT comes from, who is behind it, how a small time dealer would get his hands on it and most importantly, how the films prologue fits into the rest of the story.

Cooper, an actor I haven't liked and who seems to be getting by on his good looks alone, but here he perfectly embodies Eddie's evolution from sorry loser to likeable big wig. He's a little cocky and self righteous but as he works himself into his new improved life, there arrogant air is replaced by that of someone who is simply comfortable in the limelight, someone who has always been at the centre of attention. Cooper easily fits the range of the character in an impressive performance. Abbie Cornish doesn't have much of a role aside from the love interest worried for the man she loves though I did appreciate that her character makes one of the film's best observations. For his small role, Robert De Niro moves away from the trashy, forgettable characters of late for a real acting job. Its not a large role but a memorable one.

I was a little disappointed by an initial trailer for the film which suggested the downfall for Eddie wasn't as dark and depressing as I would have initially thought and though the character doesn't end up on the streets rummaging though garbage; the trip off of NZT isn't a cake walk the encounter with the European bookie in Eddie's new apartment is fantastic.

It doesn't happen often but as the credits rolled on Limitless I was disappointed. I wanted to spend more time in that world, a world where a little drug could potentially make you super human. I wanted to know the details of what happened to Eddie in the space of a year between the end of the film and the prologue. I also wanted to meet other people who had taken it; wanted to know how they dealt with it and where they ended up. It's a great concept which Burger executes in style and the mix of action adventure and sci-fi thriller is well balanced and provides a little something for everyone.

Limitless is available on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, July 18th.

DVD Extras: Extras include an alternate ending (I'm quite thrilled that this one ended up on the cutting room floor), a four minute behind the scenes featurette and a director's commentary which, unfortunately, would not play on any of my devices.

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Darren Bracey (3 years ago) Reply

At last, someone who shares my view on Limitless! I loved this film and like you I wanted more, still do.

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agentorange (3 years ago) Reply

Watched it. Liked it. Of course I'm partial to strange films about writers (read: Naked Lunch)


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