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A movie directed by Neil Burger

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A decent sci-fi thriller, but nothing near special.

  • Aug 17, 2011
**1/2 out of ****

What is there was a pill for instant awesomeness and intelligence? This is a question that Neil Burger's "Limitless" attempts to give some insight into, with a plot that involves such a drug and the many people that could make use of it. He does well in adapting the novel, "The Dark Fields", for his film; which is fast-paced, fun, entertaining at the core, and even a bit intriguing. I like the set-up used here, and I like the actors involved. They each do their jobs. I appreciate that. I always do. And while the film is better than the trash that Hollywood tends to release out of this genre every week, it's still missing a lot; and that's enough to throw it off goodness, greatness, and anything further than decency.

Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) is a down-on-his-luck druggie in the middle of his life, trying to survive in a small home, with an unsupportive girlfriend who dumps him early in the film because she finds him just as pathetic as he finds himself. He lives a sad, boring life. But miracles do happen, and in the most unexpected places they shall appear. A miracle, for poor ol' Eddie, comes in the form of a lost brother-in-law, who he hasn't talked to for years, but happens to see in the streets of the city one day. They talk in a pub. The brother-in-law gives Eddie a pill that hasn't been tested, hasn't been approved, and hasn't been USED. This is the pill that I had told you about earlier; the one that pretty much makes you a smarter man. The film makes a false assumption that we only use about 20% of our brain, and the purpose of the drug is to unlock every last bit of it that we've been letting sit there for years, and years, and years.

Eddie takes the drug and starts to feel a sudden adrenaline rush. Suddenly, he impresses those who once looked down on him. He's more daring, more frequently full of energy, and might even be able to make a career for himself if he tries hard enough. He enjoys all this while it lasts. But drugs, and he has plenty of them, only account for temporary happiness. What happens when Eddie runs out?

Eddie doesn't so-much worry about that. His brother-in-law, the giver of this fantastic pill, was murdered; presumably over the drug itself, we're not entirely sure. What Eddie is worried about is the people he influences, or rather, the people who are influenced by him. He catches the eye of Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a powerful, well-respected businessman who may be interested in all that this previously anonymous man has.

I sort of enjoyed what the director was trying to do. Neil Burger had directed "The Illusionist", a superior film, before this one; and he brings a lot of his style and flare to his newest feature. "Limitless" is a trippy, visually seductive labyrinth; somewhat destroyed only by its uneven script and ludicrous plot. But maybe it was the point to be ludicrous; maybe it was the point to be intelligent. Who knows? This is Burger's film. And he made it well. He has a style; one that is distinctive enough. The sequences showing the effects of the drug on Eddie are suitably effective and even surreal; which isn't a word I often apply to any Hollywood production. But I suppose the film achieves something through the fact that it's earned some sort of title. I respect it greatly. I just can't say I liked it.

But why not like it? I said it was entertaining, and I didn't lie. "Limitless" IS entertaining. In fact, it's somewhat better than I expected it to be. The visuals, which are like I said, quite good, carry the film almost by themselves; while the performances do the rest of the work. Bradley Cooper is cool and collected as his character; nothing special, nothing too unlikable. De Niro is sort of disappointing in his role, which can sort of be expected, given the path he's been taking recently in his career. However, it's a nice shift (from "Little Fockers" to this much better film). I guess the only thing that I haven't described, that happens to also count as a flaw against the movie, is the lack of any humanity in the script. Here, we have a guy taking drugs, initially loving it, and then facing the sickeningly psychedelic consequences. We don't really care. We don't really want to. These characters are just a little undeveloped for that. Therefore, "Limitless" is nothing special, but I think it's still worth checking out if you like a good, speedy thriller. It is well-made, has some fascinating cinematography, and it will suffice as a solid movie-night. It just feels a tad heartless for me to say I actually liked it.

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September 01, 2011
I have this at home as a rental. Seems like my expectations may be on the money judging from your review....
More Limitless reviews
review by . September 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Very Limited....BLAH....
No one wants to become an addict to damage himself. Everyone becomes addicted to something because of the promise of becoming hipper, cooler, suaver, smarter and perhaps even more charismatic. Now let me stop myself from ripping off the prologue of BATMAN VENOM, and let us discuss director Neil Burger’s “Limitless”. It does have an interesting premise, as the screenplay by Leslie Dixon brings a story about a wonder drug that allows someone to access all the functions of one’s …
review by . July 28, 2011
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review by . May 02, 2011
So here I am, sick, writing my review of Limitless, which was a decent but unspectacular movie starring the ever-so-charismatic Bradley Cooper. From the minute I saw the trailer for this I wanted to see it and now that I have, I wasn't disappointed. Limitless doesn't really take full advantage of its spectacular premise, but it provides some decent thrills and visual panache, although like the consensus says, the script left much to be desired. This, along with movies like Rango and The …
review by . March 13, 2011
'Limitless' 'Two Jews On Film' Have A Fun Ride With This SciFi Thriller (Video)
'Limitless' directed by Neal Burger and written by Leslie Dixon is based on the novel   The Dark Fields a riveting, high-concept thriller written  by (Andrew Dunn).          Both the film and the book asks the question: What would you do if you could take a pill that makes you smarter - as in...beyond genius, smarter?      Well for Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) an unsuccessful writer with major writer's block, …
review by . July 18, 2011
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Oddly limited
LIMITLESS   Written by Leslie Dixon   Directed by Neil Burger   Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro       Carl van Loon: So, Eddie Morra, what’s your secret?   Eddie Morra: Medication.       Drugs are bad. While that is generally the rule, how can anything that allows you to access the full potential of your brain actually be bad for you? Well, it can if the mere idea of it inspires …
review by . March 19, 2011
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Star Rating:         Oscar Wilde is one of the most quotable writers I know of, and I’m pleased that reviewing Limitless has given me the opportunity to mention one of his best witticisms: I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying. Screenwriter Leslie Dixon and director Neil Burger should have had that quote engraved on a plaque and hung over their office doors, for it would give passersby an idea of what to expect …
review by . May 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
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About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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