Limitless

Friday, 18 March, 2011

3 and a half stars

The premise

Limitless (trailer), a fantasy thriller, is the most recent feature of US director Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”, “The Lucky Ones”), and is based on Alan Glynn’s 2001 novel The Dark Fields, which at one point was also to be the film’s title. The screenplay was written by Leslie Dixon, whose credits include “Mrs. Doubtfire”.

Based on the popular – though incorrect – notion that humans utilise no more than ten to twenty percent of their brain capacity, “Limitless” poses the question, what might happen were we able to access all of our grey matter, and how much better off might we, and just possibly, the rest of humanity, be as a result?

The play

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer struggling to get his act together. Having scored what every aspiring author would give their right arm for – a writing deal – he finds himself beset with a particularly severe case of writer’s block, weeks have passed and he hasn’t typed a single word of his book.

His partner, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), tired of supporting him, throws him out. Later, by chance, Eddie encounters ex brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) who invites him to try a new – apparently officially sanctioned, though experimental – drug, NZT-48, which dramatically boosts cognitive function.

Within days Eddie has completed the book, and having realised the potential of his new found abilities, has started making some very tidy returns playing the share market. This results in a job offer from corporate mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who is also curious as to the source of Eddie’s talents.

Van Loon of course isn’t the only one, and after Vernon is murdered, Eddie finds himself targeted by a number of groups deadly determined to possess his secret. They aren’t his only problems though. Having taken to doubling the drug’s daily dose, he is also being troubled by some very odd side-effects…

The wrap

For material that isn’t especially original – movie storylines are replete with elixirs, or pills, that somehow boost human power – “Limitless” is still entertaining fare, while Eddie, the all smart guy who doesn’t use his brain, flies too high, attracting all sorts of unwanted attention, gradually wins viewer sympathy.

While the ending is something of an anti-climax, “Limitless” is complimented by a subtle humour, and superb special effects and graphics – particularly during the opening credits – that perfectly enhance proceedings, rather than being distracting, or acting as a device to cover over an inadequate story.

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