Review by Jack Foley
FAUST meets Fight Club in Neil Burger’s Limitless, a wild ride of a movie that confirms Bradley Cooper’s rise to A-list status.
Based on Alan Glynn’s 2001 novel The Dark Fields the film sets up an incredible scenario and proceeds to deliver an adrenaline fuelled ride that engages the senses every bit as emphatically as the drug at the centre of proceedings.
Cooper plays struggling writer Eddie Morra who, upon being offered the chance to ‘test’ a new, top-secret drug that allows you to access 100% of your brain, suddenly finds his life transformed.
Becoming an overnight success, Eddie is able to put every single piece of information he has ever absorbed to good use – whether through maths or social skills – but becomes hooked on the rush that accompanies the pill, and eventually paranoid that someone is trying to kill him.
But with big business (represented by Robert De Niro) keen to find out what Eddie is on, while exploiting his ‘talents’ for their own ends, Eddie faces a race against time to realise his full potential before his supply line runs out, or the people lurking in the shadows finally catch up to him.
Burger’s film operates in a kind of heightened reality befitting the ‘high’ that Eddie frequently feels but it works in taking viewers on a similarly wild ‘trip’ that, thankfully, has the intelligence to match.
Leslie Dixon’s screenplay mixes moral and political observations with thoughts on the male psychosis and drug dependency yet remains gleefully aware of its over the top elements.
Hence, it can be said to display the same renegade tendencies as David Fincher’s early work with a similarly mind-bending attitude to ‘reality’. The film consistently engages by virtue of the increasingly heightened stakes surrounding Eddie, mixing cool flights of fantasy early on with some suitably dark elements towards the finale.
And it’s all delivered with considerable visual panache by Burger, who drops in some dazzling set pieces along the way.
Cooper, meanwhile, delivers a charismatic tour-de-force, effortlessly capturing the conflicted emotions of his character through the various stages of his dependency without compromising his likeability. It says much for the quality of his work that we never stop rooting for Eddie, even during some of his darker moments.
There’s strong support, too, from the likes of De Niro’s big businessman (on form, despite being under-written), Abbie Cornish, as a love interest and Anna Friel, looking suitably bedraggled as a ex-addict.
There are limitations, of course, given that Burger has clearly opted for escapism over anything too ‘heavy’ and delivers an ambiguous ending that might not be to everyone’s taste. But as if so often the case with mainstream movies nowadays, the fun is in the journey and Limitless offers a wild and genuinely fun ride.
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 1, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Bradley Cooper interview
- Limitless Photo Gallery