Limitless is a film that merely exists. It doesn’t impress. It doesn’t offend. It’s just there. It spends an hour and 45 minutes moving neither forward nor backward. It creates a feeling of apathy among its viewers, disconnected from what’s happening onscreen and ready to depart from the theater and experience something more exciting. It’s a movie that has an interesting idea, but never does anything interesting with it. It’s not a waste of time, but it’s also not worth it. The strange crossroads Limitless finds itself in is one of equal mix hatred and admiration. If that’s the best it can do, despite some positive aspects, I’m going to have to advise you to skip it.
Bradley Cooper plays Eddie, a struggling writer who is in the middle of a block, unable to find anything in his mind that is worth putting on the page. After months of producing nothing, he runs into his ex brother-in-law, Vernon, played by Johnny Whitworth, who gives him a drug that allows him to use all of his brain rather than the small percentage humankind has been limited to. The drug is called NZT-48 and, rather than use it to further pursue a literary career, he makes a name for himself in the finance world, catching the eye of big business mogul, Carl Van Loon, played by Robert De Niro. Unfortunately, there are side effects that Vernon didn’t mention and Eddie quickly finds himself wondering if it was all worth it.
Limitless is a film that reminds one of The Social Network, only to a lesser degree. Its comparative dialogue, which is fast moving and quick witted, makes it seem like it’s aiming for something smart, but that aim seems to be in the wrong direction. It may use big words, but without proper implementation of them, they are nothing more than psychobabble. And its script relies on ridiculous scenarios and contrived happenstances to move the plot along, like an early scene when Eddie is looking for the drug in his now dead brother-in-law’s apartment. After an unsuccessful search, he says that without the drug, he’s “cooked,” which naturally leads him to finding a secret compartment inside the oven.
Essentially, Limitless is a story about a drug addict. Eddie takes the drug, becomes addicted to its intoxicating, feel good effects and then finds himself in dire straits as it begins to take his life. Given the subject matter and the path Eddie goes down after taking the drug, it would be easy to assume that there is some type of anti-drug message, but that’s not the case. In fact, the end result of the film, which will not be revealed, shows that prolonged drug usage can have a positive effect, as long as you can work through the initial negative side effects. It’s an ending of questionable morals and it comes off as more than a little irresponsible.
But when it all comes down to it, it’s not the contrivances or the problematic message that kills Limitless. It’s that it’s just kind of boring. While a technically solid film, it fails to capitalize on its intriguing premise. Surely if we could use our brains to their full extent, it would be more interesting than this. An idea ripe for the picking is wasted on a screenplay that has no idea what to do with it. It’s ironic really. The characters in Limitless are brilliant, but the story they are forced to trudge through is dumb as a rock.
Limitless receives 2/5