|Directed by:||Neil Burger|
|Written by:||Leslie Dixon|
|Cast:||Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel|
If you could know everything, would you? On one hand, you’d have all the knowledge in the world and could easily take advantage of it to gain wealth and power, among other things. On the other hand, you could never be surprised about anything. LIMITLESS, directed by Neil Burger (the man behind 2006’s THE ILLUSIONIST), is a thriller film that explores the idea of ultimate knowledge, and while the film does feel a bit jumbled, overall it’s an enjoyable film.
The film stars Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a down-on-his-luck writer who is working on a book but is plagued by constant writer’s block and hasn’t gotten a word of his book down. One day, he bumps into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon Gant. Vernon is a drug dealer who offers Eddie a new drug, NZT-48, which allows him to use one hundred percent of his brain whereas most people can only use twenty percent.
Eddie recognizes the potential of the drug and goes to Vernon to obtain more. He finds that Vernon has been murdered, and he suspects that the killer was after the NZT. Eddie finds a hidden stash in Vernon’s oven and hides it in his pants as the police arrive. He begins to start using the drug frequently and uses the stock market to build up a massive amount of wealth. Along the way he meets several characters who either want to use him or use his drug, one of them being Carl Van Loon (played by Robert De Niro), a hard-working businessman who wants to use Eddie’s mind to play out his corporate takeover of various companies.
That being said, the main antagonist of this film is not Van Loon or any of the other people after Eddie; it’s the drug itself. Eddie relies on this drug for everything, from something as simple as figuring out how to calm down his landlord who is demanding rent, to something as complicated as figuring out how to fight off a couple of thugs who want his drugs. Even when he is on top of the world, Eddie is still a slave to NZT-48. I liked the way this idea was handled, as it wasn’t really forced down your throat, but subtly hinted at in the film.
LIMITLESS is incredibly well-shot and features unique camera angles and special effects. For example, there is one scene where Eddie is cleaning his apartment while on the drug for the first time. The camera pans around the apartment, showing multiple iterations of Eddie cleaning up the apartment, all existing at the same time as if he had been cloned. In addition, color schemes are used to depict the state that a character is in while on the drugs. When Eddie first takes NZT, the colors become dull before bursting open into warm and vibrant scenery. Unique shots like these exist throughout the film and really add another layer of enjoyment to the film.
The film isn’t without its faults, though. My biggest issue was the number of potential mini-storylines that were tied up in an unsatisfactory way. One in particular involves Eddie, who finds himself on a bridge after tripping out on the NZT, unable to account for the previous eighteen hours of his life. During this time, we see Eddie hook up with a wealthy young socialite, and later Eddie discovers that she was murdered. The police take him in and believe he is the murderer because a witness saw him leaving her apartment. Because Eddie was unable to account for the previous day, he isn’t quite sure if he actually did kill her or not, and while the plot was eventually resolved, you never do really know if Eddie killed her, nor does it seem to bother him in the least once the plotline is resolved. There are a few more that come to mind, but I won’t spoil them and will let you figure them out for yourself.
In addition, the film feels as if it’s nonlinear even though it isn’t. The film fluctuates between Eddie’s rise and fall and rise and fall while on NZT, and the fluctuation doesn’t feel natural or fluid. It almost feels as if some prankster started switching around scenes in the editing software during production and nobody noticed. It’s difficult to identify with Eddie when he’s benefiting from the drug during a couple of scenes and being destroyed by it in another.
Overall, LIMITLESS is an intriguing thriller that is aesthetically pleasing and has a great concept. A few issues such as an unorganized plot structure and the lack of willingness to follow through with certain plotlines keep LIMITLESS from truly being great, but it’s an enjoyable film regardless and is worth the price of admission.