This weekend has pretty much been a movie weekend for me. Be it at home or at the theaters, I was determined to watch as many movies as possible. With that in mind, yesterday was a Blu-ray kinda day for me. I watched Source Code on Friday, so watching that on back-to-back days was out of the question (you can read my review here). Instead, I decided to pop in a movie I had been looking forward to for a while, but just never got around to it. So, with that in mind, I decided to pop in Limitless. The 20th Century Fox/Relativity Media production – rated PG-13 and based on a novel called The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn – stars Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert DeNiro. I had heard wonderful things about this movie, but I had no idea what to make of it myself. What did I think of it? Keep reading to find out.
The movie begins with someone trying to break into a heavily fortified apartment in New York City. It’s resident, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), is seen standing over a ledge debating whether or not to jump before whoever is at the door gets to him first. The movie then flashes back to an earlier time, with Eddie being a burned out writer, struggling to finish a book that he hasn’t put minute one into. His girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) has just broken up with him, and he is wandering aimlessly trying to figure out what to do with his life. He then runs into his ex-wife’s brother Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth), who offers him a pill called NZT to help unlock the full potential of his brain. Reluctantly, Eddie takes the pill, but he then realizes that the effects kick in immediately. He writes the first three chapters of the book he had been working on, and he begins to notice a change within him. Going back to Vernon’s for more information, he finds out that the pill isn’t necessarily legal, and it comes with some pretty serious side-effects. Vernon is killed, Eddie finds his hidden stash of pills and money, and the race is on for Eddie to protect his own neck, finagle his way into making millions dealing with a Wall Street shark named Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro), and discover a way to counter the dangerous side effects he discovers with the pill.
What worked for this movie? The leads were incredibly convincing. Bradley Cooper really shines in what is considered by many to be his breakout role, Abbie Cornish plays the part of the love interest well, including unlocking the full potential of her brain herself in order to evade a would-be assailant. The one I was most impressed with was Robert DeNiro. At this point in his career, he has a tendency to be a bit overstated, that is, he can overact by a mile. In this movie, he was more subdued than anything. He was reserved and business-like, and he only reared the late-career DeNiro near the end of the film. That was nice to see, because it’s becoming a rarity nowadays for him.
What didn’t work? A couple of things, including one that actually impressed me at first glance. The main thing that did it was the science. The prevailing myth that we’ve been told for most of our lives is that we only use 10% of our brain, and the rest of it is apparently sitting there like an unemployed version of Al Bundy with its hand in its pants drinking a beer. The truth of the matter is that we actually use 100% of our brain, but we only use it at certain points. If we were to use the full 100% of our brain, we would surely lose our minds. In fact, there is a point in the movie where he meets up with his ex-wife who was taking the pill only to realize that she was unable to concentrate on anything for longer than 10 minutes. The other thing was the end of the movie itself. It was entertaining, but it flies in the face of the science itself. Also, the end was explained differently in the alternate ending, and that actually has a bit more credibility to it.
The film was directed by Neil Burger, and it was directed with a incredibly beautiful visual flair. The cinematography itself was very beautiful, with experiencing Eddie go through his trips being a joy to watch. There is a fight scene set in a subway station that is filmed elegantly, with the fight itself being interspersed with scenes from various old videos about how to fight, as well as scenes from Bruce Lee movies. The score was done by Paul Leonard-Morgan, and it was fairly nondescript. In fact, I don’t really remember a whole lot of the score at all. If memory serves, it was a bit techno, but it wasn’t much to write home about.
Despite what I felt was a hokey ending, I did enjoy the movie. It was a fun romp, and I had a good time with it. I’m not going to rank it above Source Code, but it was very entertaining. With that in mind, I have no problem with considering this movie to be four times More Epic Than Love Jones. It was definitely a good look into the mind of a man who is able to unlock his full potential through the miracle of science.
After that, the opportunities are limitless.