Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Leslie Dixon (screenplay), Alan Glynn (novel)
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel and Abbie Cornish
People have always wondered how their lives would change if there was a drug that could make them smarter. The moral question of whether or not people should take such a drug is presented in the new Relativity Media thriller ‘Limitless,’ starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish. But audiences will unfortunately forget this question quickly, as the movie glorifies illegal drugs and the extravagant lifestyle people can obtain by taking them.
‘Limitless’ follows writer Eddie Morra (played by Cooper) as he is hit with a severe case of writer’s block. While he is unable to formulate any ideas for his new novel and virtually has no other job prospects, Eddie’s girlfriend, Lindy (portrayed by Cornish), breaks up with him. Eddie then runs into his ex-brother-in-law, who convinces him to take NZT, a top-secret, experimental drug that allows people to use all of their brain power.
After he begins taking NZT every day, Eddie becomes extremely successful in the financial world, using his new-found math skills to make money on Wall Street. Business mogul Carl Van Loon (played by De Niro) becomes impressed with Eddie, and makes him his protege. But Eddie not only tries to hide his dependency on NZT from Carl, but also the fact that hit men are trying to kill him unless he gives them more of the mind-altering drug.
Director Neil Burger had the potential to create an exciting action thriller with ‘Limitless,’ but unfortunately, failed to live up to expectations. The movie, which is based on the 2001 techno thriller novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, has an interesting premise, showcasing what positive effects a street drug can have on a person’s mind. Eddie, who should have been a likable character who proves that anyone can achieve anything they put their mind to, regrettably fails to grow or mature after taking the NZT.
While presented as the movie’s protagonist, Eddie seems to only care about how the NZT will benefit him, including how much money he can make and how much fame he can attain. He doesn’t care nearly half as much as how the NZT will affect the people in his life, including Lindy. For example, when he loses the stash he normally carries around with him, Eddie shows up at Lindy’s job and makes her get his extra pills from her apartment. Along the way, she is followed and physically threatened by one of the hit men following Eddie. After the incident, Eddie just keeps trying to convince Lindy how good their lives would be if he could get more of the pills.
Due to Eddie’s seemingly lack of concern over Lindy’s well-being, and their few scenes together, Cooper and Cornish lack a romantic chemistry together. The audience most likely won’t care if Eddie and Lindy end up together or not, as he seems too self-consumed to care about anyone’s else’s well-being. Eddie’s determination to continue living an esteemed, cultured lifestyle over Lindy’s objections unfortunately makes it seem as though they’re only friends, as opposed to being in a romantic relationship together.
Screenwriter Leslie Dixon also fails to keep the momentum in ‘Limitless’ moving by continuously introducing new sub-plots and secondary characters. What makes Eddie and his story seem so unrelatable is that Dixon fails to give a clear explanation of what happened to these sub-plots. For example, Eddie travels around New York City one night and attends several different parties. The next day, he realizes he blacked-out for over 18 hours, and has no idea what he did. He soon becomes a suspect in the murder of a socialite, but manages to stay out of jail because the evidence against him is circumstantial. But it’s never explained what happens with the case after that.
Even with several sub-plots, Dixon failed to provide a cohesive, well-structured main story-line. Even with hit men and detectives following him, Eddie has no clear external conflict to overcome. Dixon seems so determined to constantly remind viewers that Eddie doesn’t have a life-long supply of NZT to keep his new-found genius alive that she forgets to focus on the other characters and conflicts.
Eddie becomes fascinated with NZT, and is determined to keep taking it, as he thrives on the action and knowledge he gets from it. Unfortunately, viewers won’t be as impressed with ‘Limitless’ as Eddie is with the drug. Unlike Eddie, the script lacks focus and creativity. Even with such big-name stars as Cooper and De Niro, adrenaline fans will have to find another way to get their daily dose of action.
Written by: Karen Benardello