Limitless

It is human nature to see how far you can take yourself.  In Limitless, a solution is offered to reach the maximum potential of anybody.  A small clear pill is what takes the antagonist of Limitless from down and out writer to the peak of achievement.  Edward Morra (Bradley Cooper) originally appears on screen as a writer with writers block.  His life is stalled and a happen-stance run in with his brother-in-law find his exposed to an untested but groundbreaking drug, NZT.  This drug allows the user to access 100% of his brain instead of the usual 20%.  With one intake, Edward, Eddie, is able to draft his novel and turn his entire life around.  Along with a hefty price tag, the drug attracts attention from other high minded individuals seeking to get their hands on the limited stash.  Eddie must battle other NZT users while maintaining his relationship with his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish) and employer, Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro)

Eddie’s transition from slob to genius take place as soon as the drug hits.  The audience’s first sign of the ‘high’ state is a fish eye lens from Eddies point of view.  The filmmaker makes obvious cinematic chooses such as the fish eye lens and color changes to allow the audience to quickly know the difference between the states.  This came across as unnecessary and belittling.  I find it distasteful that the director has to dumb down plot points to make them accessible to the audience, the difference in character intuition and intellectual prowess was enough.  What was interesting about the drug state was how Eddie and others learned.  One scene found Eddie in a hand to hand fight.  In his inner monologue Eddie says he has never fought before, but in a montage of action and cut aways, Eddie learns from what he already has seen.  When Eddie jabs, a cut to a Chinese kung fu film is shown.  When Eddie takes someone down, a cut to a History Channel documentary is flashed.  It is a metaphor for the way we learn today.  We search and grab small bits of information from the Internet or from shows to construct a mosaic-like thought.

This film stands as Bradley Cooper’s first film on his own.  He has been known from his breakout role in The Hangover and other major blockbuster films but this was his chance to stand alone.  Cronish and DeNiro maintain minor roles and neither leave a lasting impact.  To see this film you need to enjoy Cooper and his snark-full of himself attitude.  That said, he pulls it off in a captivating performance.

The films really has two plot lines that do not converge till the end.  The first is Eddie’s relationship with NZT.  His abilities he gains from it, his desire to get more of it, and the people he battles for it.  The second is his relationship with his girlfriend and his deal-making he does for Van Loon.  The first directly impacts and propels the second, but the second was not interesting.  His business career and relationship with Lindy did not have enough compelling plot points juxtaposed to his use of NZT.  The film was interesting and worth watching solely based on his experience with NZT and using 100% of his brain.

Finally, this movie crescendo’s with an ambiguous ending, that can be debated.  I enjoy debatable endings because it extends the shelf life of a film.

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