“Limitless” Movie Review

     "Limitless" is a nifty science fiction type thriller that offers a fairly original scenario.  I call it science fiction because really the core of the story involves a wonder drug called "HZT" which couldn't possibly exist in real life, yet the proceedings occur in present day New York City.  As the tag line for the film asks, "What if a pill could make you rich and powerful?". In theory, this pill allows a person to access and utilize the supposed 80% of you brain that goes unused at any given time.  This allows the person to think, calculate, conjure, analyze, and brainstorm at an alarmingly fast pace, which in the financial world seems to come in handy.

     Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a down on his luck writer who has hit a severe creative block.  At a glance, Eddie has the appearance and the home life of a vagrant going nowhere.  Even his live in girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), has decided to part ways, leaving him broke and questioning his future.  This is until he has a chance meeting with his ex wife's brother who provides him with his first dose of HZT.  Suddenly, Eddie is a new man.  He cleans his apartment, finishes his book, and even learns new languages in a matter of hours.  When circumstances lead to him acquiring a large supply of the drug, he begins to increase his dose and soon he turns a few thousand dollars into millions through stock market analysis.

     It doesn't take long for the Wall Street tycoons to take notice of Eddie and his sensational talents.  One of them, Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro), takes a particular interest and brings Eddie aboard his team, putting him in charge of a major merger deal.  Of course it also doesn't take long before the inevitable side effects begin to mount up.  The drug does things to you when you take too much, as well as when you go off of it.  As you would expect, both situations bring the majority of Eddie's problems in the film to light.

     Director Neil Burger brings an exceptional creative flair to Limitless that sets it apart from other films in this genre.  When Eddie seemingly skips time from drug overdoses, Burger depicts a kind of visual time warp through the streets of NYC.  You get the sensation of Eddie's life as it is moving with such speed that even he can't keep up.  Burger also uses color to his advantage.  When Eddie is off the drug, the images are black, greenish, and morbid.  When Eddie is on the drug, the colors are bright and vibrant with the energy jumping at you from the movie screen.  This is a great use of contrast by Burger and lends to the film's overall effect.

     As Carl, DeNiro (The Greatest Actor of All Time Per Me) isn't given much to really work with.  His role is merely a supporting one and the result is simply DeNiro on screen.  Cooper, on the other hand, flourishes and shows he is highly capable of being a leading man both on screen and at the box office.  He's has come a long way since playing Claire's boyfriend Sack Lodge in "Wedding Crashers" and I'm sure there is much more to come.  With Limitless, it really goes to show how proper casting, a smart script, and creative direction can bring what may be perceived as just an average Spring film to the heights this film ultimately reaches. GRADE: B