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Limitless: Be All That You Can Be

Director: Neil Burger
Screenplay: Leslie Dixon
Release Date: March 18, information pills 2011
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert de Niro, Anna Friel, Andrew Howard, Johnny Whitworth, Tomas Arana, Robert John Burke
Based on the book by the same name by Alan Glynn

If you could use 100% of your brain 100% of the time, what would you do? “Limitless” explores these exact questions with leading actor Bradley Cooper, who plays Eddie Morra in this fun and entertaining science-fiction thriller, which is based on the book “Dark Fields” by Irish writer Alan Glynn, which has now been reissued and retitled “Limitless: A Novel”.

Eddie is a washed up writer who drinks too much and has difficulty putting his ideas together. One day, by chance, he runs into his ex-wife’s brother whose former job used to be in dealing drugs. His brother-in-law claims that he’s gone legal now, working in Pharmaceuticals, and he’s got this top-secret drug named NZT that the FDA just approved and is about to go on the market. The drug, he claims, will allow all the synapses of one’s brain to continuously fire, essentially allowing Eddie to use 100% of his brain 100% of the time.

Deciding that it was a soon-to-be legal drug, Eddie does not see the harm in taking the drug and by accident, finds himself in a whole level of thinking and clarity, giving him motivation to learn, grow and discover all sorts of knowledge in the deep recesses in his brain that he never knew he had. After the effects of the pill start wearing off, he tracks his brother-in-law to find out how to get more of NZT, but quickly finds himself in an odd situation with his brother-in-law murdered and him armed with a huge bag of NZT.

Without revealing too much, “Limitless” is clever, funny in an unexpected manner, and surprising. The script is witty and smartly written, so much so that the story takes you in different directions without feeling too unrealistic. Narrated in first person throughout by Bradley Cooper as his character, Limitless feels unique and organic, never forced, despite the idea that we as an audience must accept. Everyone around me seemed to accept the idea easily and hopped on the ride that we are shown, simultaneously allowing each of us to question what we would do if we were given the same chance and could take NZT? Would we still be who we are, despite our brains functioning at a much higher clarity? “Limitless” takes the idea that we are still who we we are, but we just become better at who or what we want to be. The bad guy is still a bad guy after all, just onto bigger and “badder” things.

Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra – first as the deadbeat writer who can’t keep his hair clean, then later as the charming young hot shot, was excellent in his role. I’m rather impartial to his roles – though I find him to be a more interesting actor in drama than in comedy. Abbie Cornish as his on and off girlfriend played her just as one would expect as the sweet and ethical loving girlfriend who has her career developing and wishes Eddie to be something more than he seems to be. We’ll be seeing her in the upcoming “Sucker Punch”, so it seems to mean that this month is Abbie Cornish’s. Supporting actors Robert de Niro, Andrew Howard and Anna Friel aren’t given much to do since the movie solely rests on Bradley Cooper’s shoulders and the script, but they aid in Bradley Cooper’s interesting rise to success with the NZT.

“Limitless” is delivered in such a surprisingly creative stylized manner that one might expect it lacks substance, but I thought “Limitless” poses some interesting questions. Some people might think this is without ethics or morals, but how many movies are there about drugs and drug abuse? Others might say it’s shallow as it does not even for a second ask whether or not what Eddie was doing was right or wrong. Though they touched upon this slightly, I think it was much more effective that they didn’t explore this at all, and instead challenged the audience to wonder if they would take the pill, and if they did, what they would do if they had that much more potential? This made it much less run-of-the-mill, less serious, and more interesting. The choices they made in direction and effects when Eddie had done more than his normal dose of NZT was eye candy, and gave a unique feeling to the film not found in other more independent films (almost Requiem for a Dream-like, but less terrifying). The ending surprised everyone whom I went with as it was completely unexpected. This is not to say there is a twist of any sort, because there isn’t, but it’s not really typical or atypical of a Hollywood ending, which is what was surprising and even refreshing.

Since “Limitless” is much better seen than explained, and much better discovered than revealed, I won’t say much more. I will say one thing though – this week is a terrific week for releases. From the upcoming movies released on March 18, you really can’t go wrong with “Limitless” if you’re looking for an interesting twist on a take of a science fiction thriller, or “Paul” as an entertaining science fiction comedy, or the outstanding drama “Win Win” which will deliver a few laughs, make your heart swell, and root for all the main characters involved.

If you love science fiction thrillers, and want something refreshing and different, “Limitless” is for you. I thought it was awesome. 4 NZTs / 5 NZTs

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