Movie Review: Limitless (2011)

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Drama


Eddie Mora’s (Bradley Cooper) life is going nowhere.  He’s a struggling writer who’s somehow gotten an advance from a publisher although he hasn’t written a word of the book.  Eddie meets Vernon,  (Johnny Whitworth) his former brother-in-law.  Vernon used to be a drug dealer, but now he’s offering Eddie a pharmaceutical miracle called NZT, a drug that allows its users to use 100% of their brain power not just 20%.  Eddie decides to take the pill and in no time he’s written the first few chapters of his book and a law article for Valerie (Tv Carpio) his landlord’s wife, who Eddie also sleeps with.

Eddie realizes he needs more NZT, but by the time he runs some errands for Vernon, he is killed.  Eddie finds Vernon’s secret stash of  NZT, and starts taking it.  All of a sudden Eddie knows everything about everything, and he decides to dabble in day trading in the stock market.  Eddie decides he needs a lot more money to make money in the stock market, so he borrows money from a Russian hiktman named Gennedy (Andrew Howard) Eddie ups the dosage and makes millions of dollars, which get him noticed by Wall Street oil magnate Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) Van Loon is trying to orchestrate a merger between his company and one owned by Hank Atwood (Richard Bekins), and Van Loon wants Eddie to look at the merger papers and make sure everything is in order.  This should be a good time for Eddie, he’s  making  lots of money, he’s back with his girlfriend, Lindy (Abby Cornish) , but NZT has side effects, vomiting, headaches blackouts, during one of these blackouts Eddie might have killed a rich socialite.  Moreover, Gennady got his hands on some NZT, and wants more, and Eddie and Lindy are being chased by a mysterious man in a tan coat.  Finally, Eddie learns that NZT kills or hospitalizes everyone who takes it.  And the withdrawal symptoms feel worse that continuing to take the pills.  What does Eddie do?

This is a very entertaining movie.  It poses a very intriguing question, would a down on his luck everyman take a drug that offered him limitless knowledge without knowing the side-effects?  It’s as old a story as Adam eating the forbidden fruit.  The story moves on at a brisk pace, as the viewer sees both attributes and drawbacks of taking the drug.  There are less than realistic moments in the film, where it seems like everyone is taking or looking to take NZT and after Eddie to get it.  The blackout/withdrawal phase of the film slows the pace down a little, and the ending went in a totally different direction than I thought it was going.  Reportedly, there was more than one ending shot, the first ending must not have tested well.  The acting was well-done, Bradley Cooper was believable as both the down on his luck schmuck and the man who knows all.  DeNiro is good as the menacing business exec, and Andrew Howard is both funny and menacing as Gennady. All things considered , a more intellectual summer thriller.

Limitless:  Limited by a conventional ending.


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