Many Rivers Productions
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Review by: Larry Thomas
Everyone would like to improve himself or herself, especially if there were an easy way… like taking a pill. That’s the premise of the new film Limitless. Eddie Mora is a non-self-starting writer. He finds it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a functioning career or relationship. One day on the streets of New York, he has a chance encounter with his ex-brother-in-law, a former drug dealer who now says he’s with a pharmaceutical company. He offers Eddie an experimental drug that is supposed to allow access to 100 per cent of a person’s brain, not just the 20 per cent that science says we only use.
Right away, we can see where this is going. Eddie comes to life, works like a fiend, and conquers new worlds like languages and playing the piano. But in order to keep up this pace, he also finds he needs more and more of his new little pharmaceutical friend.
If this sounds a tad familiar, it’s not too far removed from Robert Louis Stevenson’s story of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, or even Roger Corman’s film X—The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. In both of those cautionary tales about man’s quest for breaking new barriers, we are warned about the use of artificial enhancements.
Limitless gives the story a twenty-first century, high-tech upgrade that is dazzling on screen. The rising new star Bradley Cooper, from The Hangover, plays Eddie Morra, and is up to the task of covering all the emotions he experiences. It’s a terrific performance that shows Cooper is an actor, not just a movie star. Although he may not yet be in the same league as George Clooney, he’s getting there. Cooper has the style, talent, and class to handle anything he’s required to do.
And he’s up against Robert De Niro, as a big-time Wall Street financier, giving his best performance in years; in the best role he’s had in years. After a long period of walking through second-rate films, and making a string of awful paycheck comedies with Ben Stiller, the real DeNiro is back to acting, and that’s a great thing to see.
The supporting cast is very capable, especially Abbie Cornish as the ex-girl friend who loves Eddie, but who can’t cope with his old self. Johnny Whitworth plays the brother-in-law, virtually oozing sleaze, and makes quite an impression in his brief appearance.
Limitless is directed by Neil Burger, whose best know film until now was a 2006 indie flick called The Illusionist with Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti. The Illusionist was barely seen, but got good critical notices. Limitless should put Burger on the A-list of directors. He gives the film an invigorating visual style with such rapid pacing that it feels much shorter than it actually is.
Granted, like in any film where there’s so much going on, when you start to connect the plot dots, you may have some questions, but it doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment of the film. And in the end, it really doesn’t matter, as Limitless is not a film to analyze as much as it is to experience. As the Hollywood ad geeks are fond of saying, it’s a real thrill-ride.
The PG-13 rated Limitless is now thrilling audiences at a plex near you.