Limitless starts with an interesting character with excellent inner dialogue, tosses in a very intriguing premise, adds some fancy camera work, and then ends up accomplishing a very limited amount.
Released March 18, 2011
Written by Leslie Dixon based on a book by Alan Glynn
Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Bradley Cooper (whom I always want to call Patrick), Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, and Anna Friel (from Pushing Daisies)
* * * *
Limitless is about this writer guy who can’t seem to actually write, but who inexplicably has a book contract (how the Frack did that work?) and who, because he is a loser, can’t hold on to a girl. The film starts with Lindy (Abbie Cornish), dumping Eddie (Bradley).
Eddie, you are dating Abbie Cornish. What more motivation do you need?
Soon after being dumped, Eddie runs into his ex-brother-in-law on the street. This fellow used to be a drug-pusher, and apparently is still, as he convinces Eddie to try a clear pill that is supposed to help Eddie use 100% of his brain power. Eddie eventually goes for it and finds that not only is he using all of his brain power, his motivation issues are gone and he can’t stand a mess.
Apparently we are not messy if we are using all of our brains.
So what does Eddie do? He writes his book in four days. He wins at cards and starts making money in the markets. Then he decides he needs to go big or go home, so he borrows cash from a Russian mobster (fair accent by the way). This is a good story line, by the way. The one with the Russian. It is based on a choice made by the protagonist and is a result of how the protagonist behaves.
Don’t get me started on the happenstance way Eddie fell into his fiasco.
Eddie’s problems steamroll. It turns out that someone else wants the pills Eddie got from his ex-brother-in-law, although we don’t know who until very late. Thus, Eddie is being followed by some grim-looking fellow who appears to be willing to kill to get the pills.
At this point, we don’t know what’s in the pills, where they came from, and why more of the world doesn’t know about them.
But what we do know is that they are addicting, if you take them too much or too long your brain gets fried, and Eddie really wants to make a ton of money.
The film is entertaining and fast-paced. Cooper carries the movie well enough, despite that pointy chin of his. Robert De Niro, in his throwaway role as a greedy businessman essentially mugs well enough that we’re convinced he means it. You will enjoy the movie and will possibly even like the ending, where the main guy essentially pulls a ‘check-mate’ moment out of his hat.
It’s just that everyone was so selfish.
Consider: Here’s a pill that allows a human being to use the entirety of his/her brain for a certain period of time. What do you do with that power? You make a bunch of money, of course, by gaming stocks and investments and company mergers. And by winning at cards.
Or you write a phenomenal book.
Or you use it to think so much faster than everyone else that you easily beat the snot out of a big group of burly attackers.
But do you say, “Hey. Why don’t I find the scientists who are looking for a cure to cancer, or to AIDS, and get them some of these pills?” Or maybe, “Huh. This is amazing. I’ll go ahead and give some of these incredible pills to some economists so that they can come up with the best way to fix the nation’s economy.”
Does the pill enhance selfishness too?
There’s even this one scene where Lindy is being chased by the grim fellow, she’s terrified and cornered, and Eddie (over the phone) tells her to take a pill. She does and when the thing kicks in, she finds a fairly inventive way to escape, but it endangers a little girl!
Surely, with 100% of your brain cooking, you could come up with a way to escape that didn’t involve using a little girl as a weapon.
There are several instances where Eddie completely drops the ball, screws other people and disappears from life because of the haze caused by the pills. In fact, there’s a subplot that wonders if Eddie killed someone in one of these hazes– and the way he gets out of that trouble is slimy and deeply unsettling.
Because maybe he did it.
But will all of this, he never seems to consider, AT ALL, the consequences to OTHERS of what he is doing.
So I thought the movie was entertaining, but ultimately irritating, unsettling and unsatisfying. I didn’t like anybody except for Eddie’s editor and Lindy, who had a few moments of selflessness.
Nobody changed. Nobody learned a lesson.
You might like to see the film, because it is entertaining, but it lacks soul, so spend only a dollar or two.
Pens (writing): 2
Cameras (acting): 3.5
Screens (the entire experience): 2.5