Eddie Morra is a struggling writer with a book contract that is about to expire. He has written absolutely nothing of worth. He cannot concentrate long enough to develop a story. Time is running out for Eddie as his book editor is about to pull the proverbial plug on his writing career. Even more dire, his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) is tired of supporting him. Lindy has deemed her man a total bum, a mooch, and a ne’er do well. In the middle of losing his mind, his girlfriend/bankroller, and his livelihood, Eddie has a chance encounter. He bumps into his ex wife Melissa’s (Anna Friel) brother. Her brother is looks like a seedy scoundrel but he cajoles Eddie into visiting his apartment for what promises to be a fascinating conversation. Eddie’s brother in law presents him with a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that he dismisses out of hand, at least at first. He is given one small pill. It is a futuristic looking pill, seemingly modeled with a chromium coating, but what can any pharmaceutical do to reverse one’s failures? Apparently everything.
Feeling frustrated in front of his blank computer screen, Eddie decides to chance swallowing the pill. Within 30 seconds he is able to access every memory he has ever had, every word he has ever read, every opinion he has ever heard, and he can learn at an exponentially faster rate. As the film progresses he learns Italian, Japanese, and a handful of other languages simply by memorizing collections of words. Within minutes Eddie begins writing and completes the majority of his long awaited book. His editor is thrilled with the work and suddenly his mind has been freed from its virtual imprisonment.
Let’s step back for a moment. This drug is referred to as NZT (MBT-38 in the book). It reminds me of Methylphenidate (Ritalin) and Razadyne (Alzheimer’s medication). NZT activates every fiber of the mind so that a person may concentrate all of their brain power on any given stimuli/task/challenge, and therefore can solve any problem, learn any skill, and go so far as to make educated predictions about future trends and events. Essentially, and pardon the redundancy, this pharmaceutical makes the mind limitless. This is a brilliant notion for a motion picture, and one that we have all dreamed about at one time or another. Everybody wants to access their latent intellectual memories and to expand their brain’s capacity. Human beings are sentient creatures with a desire to expand their horizons, to become something more than they are, and to achieve previously impossible feats. For these reasons alone Limitless will be a popular film.
Once Eddie is convinced NZT can change his life for the better he visits his brother in law/rogue pharmacist and finds him dead on arrival. Somebody has murdered the sinister young man and his apartment has been ransacked. Eddie makes a split second decision to scour the apartment for any leftover NZT. He finds a virtual gold mine containing hundreds of pills. After a thorough police investigation he is largely vindicated of any wrongdoing and is deemed to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, Eddie is in control of his own destiny as he has a hefty supply of the genius wonder drug. Eddie’s life dramatically changes as he becomes a Wall Street investor, learns to speak new languages, finishes his long-awaited masterpiece, and becomes a more financially secure boyfriend for Lindy. This does not mean that his problems have suddenly ceased to exist.
Due to his carelessness and cavalier attitude toward NZT, Eddie alerts other abusers to his presence. Apparently, if one does not take the medication frequently they can wither and deteriorate both mentally and physically. There are some recently out of stock abusers that will murder for their next fix out of desperation. Imagine being a brilliant superman with the world at your fingertips one moment, and then the next a completely useless wastrel with no talent, reduced brain function, and no explanation for how this sudden downturn has transpired. To not have the drug is ruinous. Through happenstance, Eddie is now the only person that possesses a heavy supply of the drug.
While our braniac is busy facing an onslaught of frantic attackers, he is also planning for the future. Eddie has aligned himself with Wall Street trader Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). Van Loon is seeking a merger with another company that will earn billions for everyone involved. Eddie predicts every move and in the process earns the confidence of the billionaire investor. In the meantime, Eddie mindlessly forgets to pay his bookie back the 100K he borrowed to start his empire. Gennady (played by Andrew Howard who ironically looks like a dysfunctional Jason Statham) captures one of Eddie’s pills while recovering his money. He suddenly becomes much smarter, more vindictive and ruthless. This causes yet another potential stumbling block for our thrilling protagonist. In order to guarantee himself a better future, and one that has a secure and reliable supply of NZT, Eddie commissions a scientist to recreate the drug. It seems that he runs out of the medication in the direst of circumstances. Complications continually arise and the action reaches a fever pitch.
Limitless is a must watch movie. Although I will always harbor reservations about Bradley Cooper, I cannot deny this film is both entertaining and unusual. Director Neil Burger is an innovator of camera angles and clever visuals. He enjoys offering viewers the whirlwind effect as I call it; nonstop and unrelenting movement. There is never a dull moment in this film. Some viewers may feel disengaged from the highfalutin verbiage but it is a necessary evil as Eddie needs to be portrayed as an ultra genius or this film would never live up to its promise. Limitless has earned ¾ stars in my book, and that is saying a great deal considering my apathy toward Cooper.
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