A failed writer (Bradley Cooper) stumbles upon a magic pill that changes his life in Limitless. What does he do when the pills are in short supply? Read the review for more.
Business rating: 1 star
Star cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro.
What’s Good: Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro’s performances; the first half, which is engaging; the cinematography.
What’s Bad: The rushed second half; the disappointing climax; the absence of a coherent explanation in the script, about the magic pills.
Verdict: Limitless is limited fun but also has lots of unanswered questions.
Loo break: None really.
Watch or Not? Watch only if you do not have high expectations.
Relativity Media’s Limitless is the story of a writer who takes an experimental drug that allows him to use 100 percent of his brain.
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a failed writer living in New York, who has a book contract but has been unable to write anything as he is very laidback and depressed. His girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), dumps him.
Then, one day, Eddie bumps into his former wife’s brother, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), who slips him a few experimental pills called NZT. Vernon tells Eddie that the pills would change his life. With nothing better to do, Eddie takes a pill. Within minutes, he is a transformed man. All that he has ever read, ever seen, ever heard – all the information in his brain becomes organised – ready for him to retrieve and share with other people. In other words, he can now use 100 percent of his brain. Eddie impresses his nagging landlady and has sex with her.
He goes back to Vernon to get more pills but finds him murdered. He searches and finds a hidden stash of NZT pills at Vernon’s house that he keeps for himself. The cops, who suspect Eddie of killing Vernon, let him go after Vernon’s sister and Eddie’s ex-wife, Melissa, confirms his identity.
With a pill a day, Eddie makes new friends, learns new languages within days and indulges in adventurous pursuits. He even completes his long-pending book and it is loved by his publishers. Lindy, his girlfriend, also gets close to him again. Soon, he discovers that with the pills, he has a new life and that he can accomplish a great deal. He decides to try his luck at the stock market.
After quadrupling his small investment within a couple of days, Eddie takes a huge loan from a Russian gangster (Andrew Howard) and invests that money also in the stock market. Soon, his meteoric rise gets noticed by the press and others in the finance industry. Business moghul Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) approaches Eddie for consulting him on a proposed business merger. Eddie impresses Carl with his sharp mind. Carl then makes Eddie the chief broker for the merger deal.
However, one day, Eddie suffers a massive blackout, during which, he realises later, he might have killed a girl. Since he stops taking the pills after the blackout, Eddie suffers from withdrawal symptoms and ends up telling Lindy all about the pills. Lindy helps him but leaves him again because she wants to do nothing with the pills. Desperate, Eddie gets in touch with Melissa, who herself had been addicted to the pills. Melissa, who is now a shadow of her former self, tells Eddie to not stop taking the pills at once or he might even die. He is scared to take any more pills, but without them, he is reduced to almost nothing. His work suffers a lot.
In the meantime, the Russian gangster, who tries to rough up Eddie to get his money back, incidentally takes one of Eddie’s pills and experiences its power. Now, he comes back for more, or he will spill the beans. Another mysterious man, who turns out to be the strongman of Carl’s competitor, tries to snatch the pills from Eddie. Finally, after a police identification parade, in the case of the dead girl, Eddie’s pills go missing. He is distraught. Does Eddie find the pills back? Is he able to sustain himself in spite of their short supply? What about the Russian gangster and the mysterious strongman, who want the NZT too? What about Carl? The latter part of the film answers these questions.
Story and Screenplay – Limitless Review
Leslie Dixon’s screenplay, based on the novel, The Dark Fields, by Alan Glynn, is well written in parts but badly written in others. Once the audience agrees with the premise that a mere pill can change one’s life radically, they will sit back and enjoy the parts where Eddie undergoes the wonderful transformation from a dull guy to a shrewd, sexy man. The scenes of his confrontation with Carl are also well-written.
However, things start falling apart when, in the latter part of the film, the fight for the pills begins. The scenes, where Lindy and the Russian gangster take the pills, have not been written or executed too well. The climax of the film is the worst part. Basically, after the trouble over the pills starts, and Eddie starts discovering that many people around him have also experienced the power of the pill, the screenplay becomes crammed with too many incidents, several of which are difficult to believe. The explanation of what the pill contains, or who manufactures it would have lent more credence to the screenplay but none of these points are ever touched upon. As such, although the film engages and entertains, it leaves the audience confused and baffled rather than delighted.
Star Performances – Limitless Review
Bradley Cooper plays the pill-popping protagonist to perfection. Robert De Niro is remarkably good. Abbie Cornish and Andrew Howard are competent. Anna Friel (as Melissa) and Johnny Whitworth support well.
Direction, Music & Cinematography – Limitless Review
Neil Burger’s (The Illusionist) direction is good but he fails to hold the film together towards the end. Paul Leonard-Morgan’s background score is appropriate. Jo Willems’ cinematography is very good. Editing, by Tracy Adams and Naomi Geraghty, could have been better.
The Last Word
All in all, Limitless provides limited entertainment. Due to its disappointing climax and the poor promotion, the film will not be able to do much at the Indian box-office.