2011 hasn’t been a great year for film. To this day, I still haven’t seen that many impressive flicks. Aside from a very small handful of movies, nothing has really stuck out or instantly jumped onto my top films list. That being said, one of the films that I did enjoy quite a bit was Limitless. Starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, the film managed to impress me and after a second viewing, it’s still a fantastic thrill ride.
If you haven’t yet seen the film, it’s based on the novel by Alan Glynn titled The Dark Fields. Bradley Cooper plays the lead role of Eddie Morra, a struggling writer who hasn’t exactly had the best luck. After a chance run-in with an old relative, he learns about a new pill called NZT. Although not officially on the market yet, his brother in law has access to the drug. He tells Eddie that humans are only able to access 20% of their brain. What this pill does though is it allows you to access your entire brain, giving you access to knowledge that you never knew you had.
With no other options and nowhere else to turn for help, Eddie takes the NZT and decides to try it out. At first, he’s amazed. He literally turns into a super human. He’s able to access every piece of knowledge he’s ever acquired over the years, allowing him to do things that he never thought possible. He finishes his book almost instantly, learns several new languages within a matter of days and he makes an absolute killing in the stock market.
Of course, whatever goes up must come down and as Eddie starts to enjoy his new life, problems soon arise. These problems come in the form of Russian mobsters and nasty side effects from the NZT. Eddie soon finds his life spiralling out of control and he realizes that NZT may not be the answer to all his problems. In fact, it seems to be the source.
Limitless works well for a number of reasons. For one, the film features a fantastic central performance from leading man Bradley Cooper. This is really the first time that Cooper has the chance to lead a film and he excels in his role. While he had a lead role in The Hangover, he was supported by Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, who also were leads.
Here, Cooper is the only lead, with other actors like Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro showing up in supporting roles. This is Bradley Cooper‘s movie and he aces the part. Sharp comedic timing, undeniable charm and unmatched charisma exude from the actor as he shoulders the load almost perfectly. He convincingly portrays both sides of his character and his performance is a joy to watch.
Supporting players are also great. Andrew Howard has a wonderful turn as a Russian mobster who’s both menacing yet somewhat funny and Abbie Cornish gives a strong effort, despite being underused in the role of Eddie’s girlfriend. Then there is Robert De Niro, who plays a businessman that Eddie works with later on in the film. He seems incredibly comfortable here as he coasts through the film, easily offering a genuine portrayal of a scheming businessman who is not all that he seems. It’s a step up from some of the recent garbage that the once legendary actor has put out and it’s nice to see him giving off a strong performance.
The film was adapted by Leslie Dixon who provides a great script, it offers up an intriguing premise that is a springboard for a wild thrill ride which only gets better as the film goes on. Scenes like Eddie living the high life with his new found riches are a ton of fun to watch and the ethical/moral dilemmas that the story poses will have us thinking the whole way through. It does drop in a few areas (a couple plot points seem far fetched and aren’t fully fleshed out), but aside from that, it’s a smart script. Also included is a clever plot twist that may frustrate some, but I found it to be a satisfying conclusion.
Neil Burger is the man behind Limitless and he lends to it a razzle dazzle of sorts. He throws in a large amount of kinetic visual trickery that help us understand just how serious the impact that NZT has on the mind really is. Mixed with sharp editing that propels the feverish pace (sometimes too feverish) and impressive effects that are kind to the eye, the film really is a very fun ride. The direction is both imaginative and energetic and really takes us into Eddie’s mind.
Frankly, I think Limitless is a great film. Aside from a few far fetched moments in the script and one or two subplots that were handled poorly and not fully explained, everything in the movie shines. From the acting, to the directing and even in the writing, everything is firing on all cylinders. It’s a fast paced, roller coaster ride of a film that rarely lets up. Limitless offers up an intriguing concept that through stylish direction and strong acting, is able to make for an excellent movie.
Limitless looks gorgeous on Blu-Ray and sounds absolutely fantastic. Well saturated colours and excellent detail appeal almost instantly to the eye. Whether it is the muted and washed out photography in the pre-NZT scenes or the vibrant and saturated photography when Eddie is on the drug, it all looks stunning. The picture carries a glossy look and strong black levels round off this wonderful transfer.
In the audio department, dialogue is incredibly crisp as it never feels muddled in the intricate sound design. Accurate sound effects propel this aurally pleasing and dynamic transfer. Ambient sounds are effective and the pounding soundtrack ramps up the intensity of the film.
Unfortunately, like so many films these days, Limitless drops the ball when it comes to special features.
- A Man Without Limits: A roughly 5 minute EPK featurette that is more or less filler.
- Taking it to the Limit: The Making of Limitless: Another EPK type feature that is just an extension of the first.
- Alternate Ending: I don’t want to spoil anything but the alternate ending here is a lot worse than what we originally get, in my opinion at least..
- Theatrical Trailer
- Two Versions of the Film – There is an extended/unrated edition here that doesn’t add a whole lot. There isn’t a big difference between this and the theatrical version but a couple extra shots of violence, nudity and swearing never hurt.
- Audio Commentary by Director Neil Burger: This is actually quite interesting and worth a listen. He offers some interesting insights and speaks about the filmmaking proces. He comes off as a bit redundant at times but overall, it isn’t a bad commentary track.
Limitless on Blu-Ray is an excellent package. It’s one of my favorite films of the year thus far and the near perfect transfer makes this an immensely enjoyable watch. Some lacking special features bring down the disc but still, this is a must buy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit different and unique.
Limitless offers up an intriguing concept that through stylish direction and strong acting, is able to make for an excellent movie.