Your powers are a gift from God or whoever the hell wrote your life script
‘What if a pill could make you rich and powerful?’ is the tagline to Neil Burger’s latest film Limitless and the morality it poses is interesting. If given the opportunity, we would throw ethics out the window and do whatever the hell we wanted.
Limitless brings it a style and assuredness that helps lift its potentially trashy sci-fi premise into something a little more credible.
Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) is Eddie Mora, a struggling writer suffering from writer’s block and coming off a breakup with his ex, Lindy (Abbie Cornish, Candy). He runs into his former brother-in-law from who introduces Eddie to a new wonder drug – NZT-48 – under the pretense that it will help him unlock 100% of his brain’s capacity. Mora starts his meteoric rise to the top; the problem is others have begun to take notice.
Perhaps the hardest thing to believe in Limitless is not the fictional drug could exist, but that Cooper could ever look so shabby looking.
Cooper demonstrates he has the acting chops to draw an audience in. If his previous roles painted him as helpless (Alias), an obnoxious jock (Wedding Crashers) or a stud (The Hangover), this film gives him more to play with and he gives Mora an exuberance that at times crosses over into arrogance, which is a good fit for the character.
Limitless plays out like Scarface, a rags to riches tale that accelerates into the hedonism of Mora’s Alpha Male lifestyle. The film resists becoming too smug; playing with the ideas of power, responsibility as well drug abuse without becoming too preachy about them.
Robert De Niro finally remembers he can act in much better films than Little Fockers and is memorable as a prominent Wall Street banker who pulls various strings in the background. In one monologue he encapsulates how the world works, reminding Mora of his place in this world and who has the power.
Their relationship turns Limitless into a power struggle. Placing it in the world of business mergers and stock valuation may seem dull at first, but with the money and influence adds to the stakes of the story and makes it less of a fantastical concept.
With a wry voiceover from Cooper, hallucinatory sequences and fractured narrative, taken seriously Limitless would not be half the fun it is. Consistently entertaining it cements Cooper’s place as a leading man and hopefully unlike Mora, he won’t let that go to his head.