Limitless (2011)

Limitless is a largely entertaining exploration into the capabilities of the human mind, the crude world of business and addiction (look how I made it sound all sophisticated and smart!). Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, struggling writer and loser extraordinaire that by chance gets a test of a newly developed, illegal drug that enhances your brain capacity of the alleged 20% to a 100%. Morra turns into a succesful über-douche, a guy that can do everything and anything.

The process of the drug’s effects (or it’s manufacturers) aren’t explained; I’m assuming it allows for simultanous use of the whole brain, without causing a fit. Everything that you’ve ever observed, heard even glanced at (according to the Limitless-theory) been encoded into your memory without you knowing it; all skills become attainable; the learning curve is shortened to a minimum. He uses his new elegance, focus and knowledge to network to create money of thin air by applying mathematical algorithms in the stock market. This attracts the attention of Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a electricity mogul planning the biggest merger in US history. Things get complicated when a mobster (Russian obviously) that Morra borrowed money from to get started starts demanding Morra to supply him with this superdrug, NZT, and a mysterious league somehow in on the secrets of the drug start following him.


Without giving too much away, am just gonna come out with that if you want to be entertained this is the film you should see at the moment. 2011 has had a really slow start for me, and this has brought it up a notch in the entertaining stakes. Even when you get past the massive plotholes (who made NZT, how does it work, why do people get sick and die after quitting it ..), the general douchery of the characters and the scientific black holes Limitless leaves you with a compact injection of enjoyment and on-the-edge-of-your-seat (but not really) thrill.

DeNiro is convincing as a hardknock businessman that’s belief system revolves around money, and money alone. His ruthless in a way that he doesn’t let any code of ethics come in his way when it comes to business; people are pawns, only useful if they deliver on his economic expectations. Even so, De Niro comes across as a bit of a disappointment but that’s probably due to the lack of character development and depth than De Niro himself. And the truth is the star of the show is Bradley Cooper; his character is clearly the focus here and others only play off of him. The mandatory romance comes with his relationship with Lindy (played by the lovechild of Charlize Theron and Ashley Judd Abbie Cornish), the love of his life, trying to keep him on track. As Morra finds himself trying to be the ‘perfect’ version of himself, the all-knowing, all-capable charmer (with an end-goal to become the president of the United States) he struggles with holding on to his essential character. Now that he can do everything, is there anything from keeping him doing it all.

When the drughaze goes south Morra suffers from blackouts and does things he’s not in control of; it’s emplied that he does indeed commit murder during one of these blackouts, but the issue’s never resolved either in general plot terms or in the general fate of Morra. There’s no usual ‘you play God you gonna get burned’ morale to the story, which in a way is a good thing. The film avoids getting preachy as it’s sole purpose is purely to entertain. But as it does mainly focus on theme of possibility, perfection and the capabilities of the human mind it leaves you with interesting questions. As Eddie Morra first finds himself without limits he goes into a swirl of socializing, women, culture, art, money, power and fame, but in a moment of clarity after defining his fears, his own limits he realises that he only has one end in mind; for him there’s only one way to efficiently use his powers to do good: becoming president of the United States. (TBF I LOLled a bit here..) There’s an interesting backdrop as to if you’d be the smartest person alive, what should you do, what should you apply your potential to.

All in all, Limitless delivers a consistently entertaining, but a rather incredulous 1,5h that makes you think as well as feel satisfied. It’s clear that Cooper’s diverging away from the typecast romantic leads into a more serious Hollywood leading male, it’s going to be interesting to see where his next project with talented David O. Russell is going to go. For me Limitless is the first must-see blockbuster of the year. In theatres in the US and UK now, opens April 8th in Finland.

You will like Limitless if…

– the likes of Vanilla Sky and Minority Report tickled your fancy.
– you can get past the scientific wormholes of brain ‘enhancement’.
– you’re looking to be entertained, not moved or blown away.

6 / 10

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6 responses to “Limitless (2011)

  1. Fantastic review, pretty much spot on with what I observed about it. There’s an argument going on over at the IMDb boards over which is better: Limitless or Inception. Two totally different films that really shouldn’t be compared, but for solid, mindless entertainment factor Limitless would be the winner for me.

    • Great, thanks Sean. Didn’t see that conversation coming! For sure Limitless is in a way constructed better, it’s more of a coherent, compact story than Inception. That said, Inception is a phenomenon that’s way more than just the film; it’s a masterpiece of innovation and story. But I do agree, Limitless is for sure an easier watch!

  2. I did love Inception because it was challenging, and thats a rarity in mainstream cinema. However, I do also think there are some people that look too far into it, finding meaning in things that aren’t there but passing them off as fact. Film is open to interpretation and one viewer may take a totally different view of a film than someone else, I understand this, but when they’re saying their opinion its definitive and definite.. I’m going off on a tangent here, haha.

  3. I will wait for the DVD but I’m definitely interested in seeing this after reading your review. Not really a fan of Bradley Cooper but the premise seems intriguing enough.

  4. Cooper is great in this role, and Burger does an effective job of creating crazy visuals to actually add more to the story that starts to actually dissolve near the end. Good Review!

  5. Pingback: Source Code (2011) | split reel·

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