An interesting and visually zippy take on addiction, "Limitless" stars as Eddie Mora, a writer who's having trouble with his latest novel. When he's suddenly dumped by his current girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), the writer's block becomes worse and worse - until he runs into his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth).
Vernon offers him a chance to sample a new drug, called NZT. Supposedly FDA approved, the drug allows humans to use 100% of their brain. While he's initially skeptical, walking through NYC and finding himself at his lows, he takes it and suddenly finds himself able to "see" - unlocking bits of memory stored away in the past, able to reason and argue like a master debater, clear and able to zip through the book he'd previously had trouble even starting.
The next day? Nothing - except the completed book - remains. Still, eager to put himself back in that state again, he revisits Vernon and finds the reality and legality of the pill. Despite that, he agrees to do some chores for Vernon for more drugs - until it becomes clear one afternoon that Vernon was in with some very dangerous people.
Not knowing what to do, Eddie manages to find Vernon's supply without the police knowing. Taking a pill a day, Eddie learns languages, learns to play the piano and uses math to his advantage in everything from counting cards to investments. His shyness and fear gone, he suddenly finds himself jetting off to exotic locales. Lindy returns, and everything appears on the up-and-up. He even finds himself connected with a high-end power broker (Robert Deniro) whose intentions may not be what they seem.
Unfortunately, he also finds that with great power comes great trouble: he borrows from a gangster and starts to see people following him. While everything becomes clear to Eddie quickly, unfortunately for him it becomes clear that he is not the only one that was aware of the drug's existence. Worse, Eddie finds out that taking the drug to the degree he is could cause side effects far worse than the kind you usually hear at the end of pharma TV ads.
Filmed with a zippy style that tries to throw the viewer into the mindset of Eddie, the picture pulls some visual tricks that become a bit tiring (visual "flash forwards" zipping over several blocks of NYC quickly) and others that are delightful (sitting in his apartment trying to pick stocks, the ceiling tiles flip over revealing various stock tickers.)
"Limitless" ends with easy answers (can there be an answer to the physical, emotional and literal cost pill that allows one to answer nearly every question?), but the majority of the movie works reasonably well at mixing a thriller with a bit of drama and sci-fi. Additionally, it pulls a reasonably good, multi-layered performance out of Bradley Cooper, who has been previously given more lightweight roles. Robert Deniro also offers a good supporting performance, memorable in a role that's really no more than a handful of scenes.
"Limitless" isn't full of grand ideas and has more than a few plot holes. While director Neil Burger does a solid job with the picture, I would be curious to see this as an Andrew Niccol film - a companion piece to "Gattaca" - that film about engineering pre-birth, this a film about the dangers of pushing the adult human's limits via science. It doesn't ask all the questions or begin to try for all the answers, but it is a compelling tale about addiction with solid performances.
The DVD and Blu-Ray include both the rated/unrated versions of the film.
VIDEO: "Limitless" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1. The Blu-Ray presentation is very nice, although falls short of greatness due to a few mild concerns. Sharpness and detail are respectable overall, although some scenes appear mildly softer than the rest. Slight edge enhancement was also seen in a few scenes. Colors looked subdued throughout much of the movie by intent, although richer colors showed through quite well during some scenes.
SOUND: The film's DTS-HD 5.1 presentation is not particularly aggressive, although surrounds are used nicely to provide ambience and mild sound effects. Audio quality was excellent, with natural-sounding dialogue and crisp, clear score.
EXTRAS: "Man Without Limits" and "Making Of" documentary, somewhat different alt ending and commentary from director Neil Burger on both editions of the film.
Final Thoughts: "Limitless" is a compelling tale about addiction with a strong visual style and fine performance from Bradley Cooper. The Blu-Ray edition offers respectable audio/video quality and a decent selection of supplements.
The Film B+