Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Release Date: Out Now
Did you ever notice how blue Bradley Cooper’s eyes were and then feel somewhat miffed at the fact that his outings in The Hangover and The A-Team didn’t quite showcase them enough? Well, does The Illusionist director Neil Burger have the movie for you!
Limitless, a movie best described as a fusion of self-aggrandising superheroism, vaguely steampunk nootropics and a schizophrenic yet often quite balanced visual style, tells the story of Eddie Morra (Cooper). Morra is a haggard, newly single writer whose lack of motivation and concentration steer him toward depression before a chance encounter with his ex-wife’s brother (Johnny Whitworth of 3:10 to Yuma) leads him to an introduction with a prototype super drug, NZT (which itself bears a resemblance to a contact lens, creating a fairly obvious ‘perspective’ visual pun).
The drug purports to unlock one’s unused brain capacity, unleashing all subliminal knowledge into a fact-spouting hurricane, which Morra uses to firstly overcome his battle with writer’s block, before turning his attention to loftier ambitions. Morra soon learns of the chemical, business social side effects of his intoxication, and struggles to balance his success with his dependency. The film, happily, often embraces the ridiculousness of these situations, adding to a welcomed subliminal cracked smile about the whole premise.
Sadly, the movie, much like Morra beneath his bravado, is fundamentally flawed, and while the concept is a very intriguing one, you are left with the impression that it itself has a wealth of untapped potential. The script is unremarkable, as is, quite sadly, the one-dimensionality of Robert De Niro’s performance as Fortune 500 business tycoon Carl Van Loon. However, Abbie Cornish shows promise as Morra’s former squeeze, as does Anna Friel as his beleaguered ex-wife.
The chief strength of this movie is undoubtedly Cooper, who towers above the supporting cast and delicately balances his addled withdrawal-induced stupor with his magnetic NZT-fuelled charisma, providing a performance which shows him to have a lot more potential than his previous filmography might lead you to expect.
Limitless is, funnily enough, quite limited in its actual impact, however it remains an entertaining ride throughout, if a tad festooned with logic and plot holes. You just can’t help leaving the cinema without feeling that the past 90 minutes should have been better executed, even with the playful third act. The glue that is Bradley Cooper’s performance, however, makes it an absorbing, if slightly misdirected watch.
In a Nutshell: A star-making performance by Cooper. Flawed, yet solidly entertaining.
– Breffni O’Sullivan