Jeromy's Movie Review: LIMITLESS
Published: March 7, 2011 - 12:54pm
Limitless, directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist), is about a man who takes a drug which enables him to use 100% of his brain capacity. This is ironic considering how the film requires it’s audience to use so little of theirs. It’s definitely one of those movies that asks you to check your brain at the door, which in itself is fine. This film, however, also asks that you check your imagination.
It’s safe to assume almost everyone knows the little factoid that humans only use around 10% of their brain and I also would venture to guess that many of those people have contemplated what it would be like to use 100%. In my imagination, using 100% of our brain means that perhaps we can move things with our minds, communicate telepathically, levitate, cure all diseases, colonize other planets or at least negotiate world peace. Who knows? We don’t know because, well, we only use that measly 10%.
If we accept, for the sake of suspending disbelief, that the 10% theory is a fact it’s unfortunate then to discover that in the world of Limitless using 100% of your brain means that you essentially become an anal retentive algorithm nerd with a compulsion to buy awesome clothes and get a makeover. Limitless has a very intriguing concept, but fails to even come close to tapping it's inherent potential.
The story kicks off by introducing us to Eddie Morra played by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, The A-Team), a divorced, down-on-his-luck writer with a severe case of writers block. After his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) breaks up with him he bumps into his drug dealer ex-brother-in-law who gives him a cure for his blues in the form of a pill. Called NZT, this wonder drug will allow him to use 100% of his brain. The next one will cost him $800.00. Thus begins his roller coaster journey, kicking off with the ability to start writing his book again.
My biggest issue with the film is that Eddie doesn’t do anything truly spectacular and one of a kind. There are plenty of geniuses who work in mathematical predictions and algorithms on a daily basis. There are people who can learn multiple foreign languages with relative ease. There are people who remember the tiniest detail from their past, who can crank out a novel in a short amount of time, or who can get a woman’s pants off within a few minutes of talking to them. The only difference is Eddie can do all of these things slightly faster and better.
Plot problems aside, Bradley Cooper does quite well here. In the past, he’s been cast as a romantic interest, charming sexy guy or wisecracking buddy. This enviable part allows him to take center stage and play several different personality types within the same role. It plays to his strengths to be sure, but it alsollows him to stretch his wings a bit showing a degree of versatility. Robert De Niro as a corporate CEO is a role I don’t recall ever seeing him in but seemed like a brilliant bit of casting. To a degree, it’s just De Niro showing up and doing his job but there was a little more room for subtlety in this role. Abbie Cornish as Lindy does a decent job, though there’s nothing here that will elevate her status more than her next role in Sucker Punch likely will. From a technical standpoint, there is nary a dull moment. DP, Jo Willems (30 Days of Night) does an excellent job of supporting the action, drama and distinguishing between the various states of mind.
What killed the film for me were the plot holes the size of elephants, the often times badly written dialog and the utter lack of imagination in fully realizing the concept all made for a disappointing outing. The screenplay by Leslie Dixon is adapted from the novel “Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn which I have not read, so I’m not sure where to place the blame but there is definitely enough to go around. Some may find it completely enjoyable if they can manage to shelve part of that 10% of their brain. If the filmmakers would have said the film's wonder drug would allow me to use just 11% of my brain I’d say it would make the whole story a lot more believable. Unfortunately it does not, leaving Limitless to become a bitter pill to swallow.