MovieMike - wrote on 12/22/11
As I sit down to write this, I just noted that ‘Limitless’ was #1 at the box office this past weekend. If you’re one of those who took this in already and thought this movie was all that and a bag of popcorn, you probably don’t want to read my take on it. I promise not to be offended if you just close this web page right now. For me, this was just another example of someone taking a great concept and making a just so-so film out of it.
Bradley Cooper (‘The A-Team’ and ‘The Hangover’) plays Eddie Morra, a struggling, wanna-be writer who is slowly losing his grip on any chance of success – at anything. Through total serendipity, he’s introduced to a magic pill that supposedly allows one to access 100% of his (or her) brain. Cooper’s performance here is just OK. I think the script is probably the biggest limiting factor as we see him bounce back and forth between major dishevelment and bright-eyed spit and polish with all too much speed. The problem is the audience is never given a reason to really care about his character, and all his self-enrichment schemes play out as greed run amuck.
The other major character in this is Robert De Niro (‘You talkin’ to me?’) as business magnate, Carl Van Loon (who comes up with these character names, anyway?) Once Van Loon realizes Morra’s capabilities, he immediately seeks to use that talent to meet his own ends. I hate to say it, but even De Niro is just OK playing a character that is supposedly a force to be reckoned with, but the audience isn’t given much to adopt that perspective.
Neil Burger (‘The Illusionist’) directed ’Limitless’ and I found his work here to be more nausea inducing than anything else. Seeking some kind of signature effects to apply to this, Burger chose to use a number of what I’d have to call infinite-zoom shots. While initially interesting, this effect quickly becomes annoying almost to the point of physically inducing illness as the zooming seems to have no end and moves at the rate of just under a blur.
In the end, ‘Limitless’ is really just another allegory for the dark world of substance abuse; but it’s an ambiguous one at that. There are a number of plot elements that make no sense and the film fails to capitalize on any of the many related subjects. You’d think that someone with limitless capabilities would do something more profound than play day-trader for millionaires. What about a cure for cancer, time travel, or (as they like to say at the pageants) world peace? It was a great concept, its just too bad the results were limited.