Limitless is one of those movies that doesn't trust the audience to stick around for a slow-building plot. Most of the film is told in a flashback, with some narration from Cooper in the lead role. Apparently, he made a "miscalculation," which has led to his neighbor being murdered, with Cooper's character up next. Did that hook you? Probably not. It's a pretty generic opening for a thriller. Did it make sense? I sure hope so, because that's about as much detail as the teaser bookends of this movie offer. But I'll clear things up. Eddie (Bradley Cooper) is a loser who fancies himself a writer. He has a book deal, but he hasn't written a word in months. Aside from his writing, Eddie spends his time mooching off his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), whose parents were aviation nuts. That's just a logical guess on my part; these characters aren't terribly well-developed, so I just wanted to flesh her out a bit. Anyway, Lindy dumps Eddie because he's a self-centered mooch who makes excuses and looks like he is a member of Blind Melon.
|Sexiest Man Alive|
|Apparently, some people are productive when tripping balls|
|Okay, it's a clever ad campaign. I still want to slap him.|
I wasn't terribly impressed with Bradley Cooper in this, his first big starring role. He was okay, given the story, but being a mediocre actor with a stupid story is nothing special. I will say that his character's long hair was the least believable handsome-actor-obviously-wearing-an-ugly-wig I've seen since John Cusack in Being John Malkovich. Aside from that, Cooper alternates smugness with wimpy panicky moments. Abbie Cornish is decent as Eddie's responsible, sane, and pretty love interest.
Robert DeNiro is okay as a super-duper international businessman, but the threat that his character promises is never followed through with. Anna Friel has a bit part as Eddie's ex-wife, and she is far less attractive when make-up artists don't want her to be pretty. Andrew Howard plays the Russian thug with more joy than anybody else in this cast, but it's a pretty standard role that has little new to offer. Rounding out the cast, Tomas Arana is once again "that guy you don't trust to do the right thing."
Director Neil Burger handled Limitless with some spurts of imagination that seemed inspired by the title; the rest of the time, he was fairly awful. First, the good: Burger used some pretty cool visuals to show how Eddie was using his brain more (the ceiling tiles turning into stock quotes, letters falling in his room, etc.), and I liked the recurring use of having a character literally step outside themselves to see their situation with new, drug-fueled, eyes. Now, the bad: this was a predictable, cliche-ridden plot with shallow characters and no one to root for.
|Hero: lying, manipulative druggie. Villain: hard-working immigrant|
Immediately after finishing Limitless, I thought to myself that it wasn't great, but wasn't bad, either. Hardly a recommendation, but not a head on a pike to warn others, either. Then I started to think about it. This is a movie that advocates ingesting mind-altering chemicals, despite horrible and fatal repercussions. This is a film where the hero has a true love, but still bangs every other woman he encounters in the movie. This is a story where a huge problem for Eddie is his limited supply of Limitless pills and he shows a remarkable ability to master any craft he pays any attention to. Even more remarkably, Eddie apparently chooses not to learn anything about science and instead hires a random science dude to make more; even stranger, Eddie doesn't feed science guy any drugs to make him suddenly brilliant. That is a pretty stupid plot hole for a movie that is supposed to be about being smart. I think DeNiro was used poorly, and I would have really liked to see him (or anyone, really) out-think Eddie.
|DeNiro, reacting to someone saying how much they loved Showtime|