Limitless (2011)

“My excuse for looking like this? I’m a writer.”

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel and Abbie Cornish


Bradley Cooper stars as Eddie Morra, a struggling writer living in New York, down and out on his luck. When stumbling across a secret drug that promises to access 100% of the brain rather than the average 20%, we see Morra turn his life around in a matter of days.

Limitless explores the potential of the human mind, albeit in the typical Hollywood mentality, teasing the audience with what may be possible if a super drug like this were to exist.

The film opens with Eddie down and out on his luck; between being threatened with eviction from his grubby apartment and failing to meet the deadline for his book, which he has still to write, his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) breaks up with him, leaving him deflated and questioning the state of his life. Enter the ex-brother in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth). While having a catch up over coffee, Vernon tells Eddie about a new drug, NZT, that allows whoever that takes it to have complete brain power, giving them the potential to do things that people would normally deem impossible. Though Eddie initially declines, Vernon leaves him with a pill that Eddie later takes, believing it would have no real effect on him.

Moments after taking it, Eddie is able to finish writing his book, and tap into some advanced mathematical skills that he never realised he had. He manages to get his hands on a big batch of NZT and begins taking it regularly. In a matter of days Eddie starts to earn thousands of dollars on Wall Street, which multiply sufficiently with each passing day. He manages to build a career in the stock market and become a protege of the infamous business mogul, Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). However Eddie has to continually hide his dependency of NZT, not to mention the hit men that are following him, out to get more NZT.

While it is an entertaining film and a thrill to watch, we again see Hollywood glorifying drug abuse. It manipulates the audience into thinking that they can live the extravagant life by taking illegal substances. As a character, Eddie also lacks in any real human emotion as he seems unaware of hurting the people around him. After turning up at Lindy’s workplace on a huge withdrawal of NZT, he makes her go to her house to collect a stash he has been hiding, all the while knowing that there is a hit man following his every move. Even with the state that he is in, he takes the pills she brings back and encourages her of what their lives could be like with more NZT. Along with this, the few scenes in which they are in together, there seems to a real lack of romantic chemistry between the two, giving the audience no real hope for them to get together or disappointment if it shouldn’t happen. Many sub-plots are also left unanswered, so expect to be disgruntled by a few intriguing ideas that could have built the film up to its potential.

Throughout the movie there are no real distinctions between Eddie and the drug, all he seems focused on is his career, money and fame, and getting there by whatever means necessary – NZT. Although initially it seemed that we were to believe that anything is possible when you put your mind to it, the ending of the movie takes this away. Eddie never seems to be over his addiction of NZT which leaves the audience believing he is wholly dependent on the drug, and the only reason behind his successes.

Star Rating: 7.5/10

Directed by Neil Burger.

Running time 105 minutes.

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