Synopsis: Aspiring author Eddie Morra (Cooper) is suffering from chronic writerâs block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meetsâas long as he keeps taking the untested drug.
Soon Eddie takes Wall Street by storm, parlaying a small stake into millions. His accomplishments catch the eye of mega-mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro), who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history. But they also bring Eddie to the attention of people willing to do anything to get their hands on his stash of NZT. With his life in jeopardy and the drugâs brutal side effects taking their toll, Eddie dodges mysterious stalkers, a vicious gangster and an intense police investigation as he attempts to hang on to his dwindling supply long enough to outwit his enemies.
Release Date: March 18, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Thriller, Drama
Limitless lost me the second Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) licked the blood of a dying man. A strange opening line for a review, yes; a completely honest observance, entirely. Eddie is the quintessential slacker. A writer with a book deal, he has not written one single word and looks like he is in need of a very long shower. His beautiful and successful girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) has just dumped him, which comes with little shock value given the introduction to his character by none other than himself through voiceover. Simply put, Eddie is a hopeless loser until he gets his hand on a little clear pill that changes everything.
A random set of events brings the drug NZT into Eddie’s possession. No longer a slave to his own lack of drive he is set free from the pathetic existence that was his life and set onto a path of complete domination in the world of finance. A millionaire in just over a week he becomes an ingenue and everyone wants a piece of him, or a taste of this wonder drug that takes the average 20% usage of the brain and manipulates it to 100%. Limitless takes its main character from the low life to the high and then drops him back down at the lowest level. Like any drug, illegal or prescription, there is an addiction element present and Eddie is addicted. To witness everything that is and was possible while on the drug and then be dropped back into the abyss of life without it is more than the mind can handle. For Eddie, it turns into a deadly game of staying alive and surviving the roller coaster ride that is being on NZT–especially when it threatens the powerful.
There are quite a few twists and turns in the film but none that come without a clear defining arc behind them. All of the characters, including Eddie, are very one-dimensional, and the entire film is told from his memory and point of view. This leaves little for any other character to add layers to the story. This is a one-man show, with minor influences from the supporting characters; Robert De Niro as the tycoon Carl Van Loon and Abbie Cornish’s Lindy, with a Russian Mobster thrown in to add some humor and a threatening presence. What Limitless does not have is stability or real focus. The story is easy enough to grasp but it does not grab you hard enough to make you care what happens to Eddie. As his life gets more and more complicated and his actions questionable there is a pang of interest that just as easily dissipates.
The possibilities that abound in a story such as this have been ignored by Screenwriter Leslie Dixon and Director Neil Burger. Themes like power being given and not earned and the consequences of such or the pangs of addiction and desire to overcome but feeling a complete lack of control to fight the effects, are a fleeting afterthought. Replaced instead by lust, greed and violence to fill the void of meaning. By the third act, and multiple added elements and characters to the plot, you are left grasping for some semblance of clarity. A lot is going on yet nothing presents itself to a reconciliation of the story and it ends with a very large question looming in the dark theatre…did Eddie ever actually make a choice or did NZT make it for him? The answer we will never know, but I am sure viewer’s everywhere with have a theory or two.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Neil BurgerScott KroopfRyan Kavanaugh
- Producer(s): Leslie Dixon
- Screenwriter(s): Bradley Cooper (Eddie Morra)Robert De Niro (Carl Van Loon)Abbie Cornish (Lindy)
- Cast: Tracy AdamsNaomi GeraghtyJo WilliamsPatrizia von Brandenstein
- Cinematographer: Nico Muhly
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA