Limitless (2011)

A failed writer living in New York, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) has a book deal but no book to show for his months of trying. Dumped by his current girlfriend, Morra unexpectedly runs into the brother of another of his exes, Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth). Given a pill with alleged FDA approval called NZT-48, and told it could aid his creative woes, Eddie gives in to temptation and takes the drug. Seducing his landlord’s wife and making a substantial dent in his novel, his night of self-actualised productivity leaves him desperate for more. Sourcing a considerable stockpile of pills, Eddie creates a new and improved life for himself, quite despite the increasingly debilitating side effects result from his growing dependency. Making enemies, unable to account for entire hours of his life and stalked by death, Eddie’s newfangled partnership with powerful business tycoon Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) promises a way out – providing he doesn’t run out of time, luck or pills.

Right from the outset, it is clear that with Limitless we are dealing with something completely fresh and exciting. With the filmmakers embracing a flamboyant cinematography – which includes fish-bowl effects and a blended zoom that gives the impression of an excellent and impossible one shot – Limitless boasts some of the most unique camera-work you’ll see outside of the matrix. Augmenting the more obvious visual ticks are a wealth of subtler techniques that conspire to create a hyper-reality of dizzying proportions, the colour saturation creating a more attractive world for our medicated protagonist to exploit.

The transformation from sober to medicated transcends cinematography, however, with Cooper utterly convincing as the empowered Eddie Morra, a suave and confident expansion of his former self. Aided by a portentous voice over, the narrative highs and lows – Eddie goes from mastering languages with incidental exposure to begging for his life in a scattering of scenes – concoct a powerful hook as Cooper’s character is caught up in rapidly escalating circumstances. Bookended by a scene set in his residential vault, Limitless is a well paced and expertly plotted thriller that gathers momentum almost as quickly as to begs questions.

The primary problem with Limitless then – considering that is it so well acted, dynamically shot and boldly set up – is that it never really ends. Basically a morality tale warning against humanity’s penchant for self-sabotage masquerading as a thriller, convention necessitates a special breed of dénouement that ties up the conspiracy and imparts a preordained message. Discarding characters such as Anna Friel’s ex-girlfriend – and fellow NZT addict – Melissa and Eddie’s hired muscle with frustrating abandon, and failing to conclude a murder investigation subplot, Limitless has no definitive endpoint but ironically limited scope for a thread-tying sequel. By film’s end we are really no closer to understanding who Eddie Morra really is, or why he was in such danger to begin with.

Although endlessly engaging and refreshingly unconventional, Limitless suffers from a fundamental ambiguity that undermines the tension built up through the film’s body. Visually arresting and wonderfully weird, however, Limitless deserves it’s inevitable frustration.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Limitless (2011)

  1. Pingback: March 2011 – You made me…a period mix? « popcornaddict

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