Director: Neil Burger
Screenplay: Leslie Dixon
Based on a Novel by: Alan Glyn
Producers: Leslie Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh & Scott Kroopf
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish
Duration: 105 min
BBFC Certification: 15
To round off the high concept movie weekend, Limitless followed Source Code.
There was a gap of 48 hours, but realistically their reviews could easily be interchanged.
If you go into Limitless – directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist) – expecting a solid thriller on an interesting high concept, you won’t be let down. But for all its flicking and juddering and “what would I do in the same position”, goosebump feelings are few and far between. Written by Leslie Dixon (Hairspray, Thomas Crown Affair) and based on the novel by Alan Glynn, Limitless is occasionally bold and raises a lot of fun ideas, but doesn’t quite live up to its brain-expanded potential.
After a bookended imminent-danger flash-forward, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) begins as a troubled, down-and-out writer. His book deal is pageless and his patient girlfriend has finally let him go. However after a chance meeting with his ex-brother-in-law, he takes a mysterious Clear Pill (kudos London underground advertising for marketing the fake product, and not the film) and rises from writer who can’t connect with his book to Wall Street guru. The pill enables him to access 100% of his brain, understand things on an exponentially large scale and become the “perfect version” of himself.
From the success of just one dose, Eddie doesn’t look back, but his anxiety to get more stock and succeed from his pill-enabled “limitless-ness” brings seedier elements into his world as he journeys to business expert, socialite and adviser to the otherwise-not-to-important-to-the-film business tycoon Van Loon (Robert De Niro).
It’s a story of addiction versus reward, and for the most part, it favours addiction. The pill enables ultimate clarity and memory recollection – sparking the odd standalone set piece scene – but the side effects make Eddie realise the Clear Pill may not be all it seems. As he becomes caught between taking it and suffering, and not taking it and perhaps suffering even more, the plot-convenient seedy elements begin to swirl around him, eager for their own taste of glory.
This is the meat of the film and it hits the excitement / danger notes it wants to, but some subplots come and go just to further the story (hello forgotten murder), the love interest is intriguing but undercooked and the beginning/ending bookend is not particularly arresting when you look back at it.
The story flies by – but it never really digs its heels in and grabs the attention.
What it comes down to is a journey which could have been… thicker. It stands up as a thriller, but its side branches are so… convenient … that you don’t care as much about Eddie for all Bradley Cooper’s blue-eyed teeth-gleaming, even if you agree you’d take the pill given a sniff of a chance yourself.
Like Source Code, Limitless does enough to not leave you disappointed, but it was also an opportunity to wow, and on that front it arguably didn’t quite deliver.
It’s a good film, but there’s not quite enough to make it memorable.
Interesting, well made and acted, but ultimately not as limitless as the title suggests.
Review by Jonathan Guyett