Imagine if you could get a month’s work done in a day, become a millionaire overnight, and be the talk of the town due to your ability to be top of the game whatever you put your mind to. Now imagine that by popping a pill, all of your dreams could be achieved - would you take it? Working from Alan Glynn’s 'The Dark Fields', director Neil Burger has brought the concept of complete brain utilisation to the big screen, and it's guaranteed to intrigue even the most sceptical of viewers.
Aspiring author Eddie Morra (Cooper) is suffering from chronic writer’s block, his life seems to be in a downward spiral which eventually results in his patient girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) kicking him to the curb. After a chance encounter with his ex-wife’s shifty brother Vernon (Whitworth), Eddie believes he has nothing to lose by trying out his so-called revolutionary new pharmaceutical drug NZT. Instantly, the top-secret smart drug allows him to tap into his full brain potential, and become a perfect version of himself.
As his life begins to transform, Eddie soon takes Wall Street by storm and beguiles anyone he meets with his enhanced ability. His accomplishments quickly catch the eye of mega mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro), who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history - but when the brutal side-effects of the untested drug take their toll and his secret stash begins to dwindle, Eddie is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The movie has an intriguing premise and visual flair by the bucket load, with cinematographer Jo Willems creating some slick shots. However, the script is packed to the rafters with a series of inconsistencies that makes it feel incoherent for the best part. It manages to get overwhelmed with clichéd corporate strifes and typical criminal drama tropes.
DeNiro feels wasted but he still rings true in his small but crucial role - his speech to Eddie as to why he is in no position to compete with him is the highlight of the movie. Cornish is neglected as Cooper’s on-off girlfriend, and the scene where she ends up on an ice rink in Central Park is an utterly ludicrous scenario. Likewise, Friel doesn’t get the airtime she deserves and appears to be undervalued as the ex-wife who suffers from the aftereffects of prolonged NZT use.
Andrew Howard plays the part of the villain with raw conviction and adds intensity to the tale. At long last Bradley Cooper is given a role that allows him to be something more than a bit of eye candy – but the far-fetched ending fails to do his character justice.
'Limitless' won’t get brain cells pumping - but that aside it proves to be one hell of a trip.