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  Limitless This Is Your Brain On Drugs
Year: 2011
Director: Neil Burger
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth, Tomas Arana, Robert John Burke, Darren Goldstein, Ned Eisenberg, T.V. Carpio, Richard Bekins, Patricia Kalember, Cindy Katz, Brian Anthony Wilson
Genre: Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: At the moment, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is standing with the toes of his shoes over the ledge of his penthouse apartment, contemplating throwing himself off into the street below as a gang of unforgiving criminals are battering down his front door with a view to torturing and killing him. But how did he get into this sticky situation? How did a man who a few weeks ago was a struggling writer with a block he was finding impossible to get over, a girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), who was leaving him and no prospects on the horizon have so far to fall?

How about the answer to that lies in his choice of drugs? For Limitless was two things, and enjoyed a split personailty to that end: it was a druggie thriller and a sci-fi superhero movie, both at the same time. As for the sci-fi half, it was the type of plot that made up all too many of the genre movies in that vein emerging from Hollywood about the time of this, a wish-fulfilment yarn, and that slotted quite neatly into the superhero genre as the pills Eddie settles on lend him astounding mental powers, which translates into incredible physical prowess when he's forced into a corner. Imagine if Superman got his powers from cocaine and you'll be much of the way there.

Not that Eddie took to the sky with a call of "Up, up and away!" or used x-ray vision but he wasn't that far away. It's a chance meeting in the street with his former brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) that gains him access to this bold new booster for the mind: he is given a sample, manages to finish half his book in a few short hours, and has never felt so alive (or neat and tidy - he cleans up his apartment to boot). But when he goes back to see Vernon for more, the intrigue begins with a vengeance, as before long his supplier is lying dead and Eddie is reporting his murder - not before he has raided the stash of special pills, of course.

The source of these pills is somewhat murky, apparently some kind of top secret experiment, but our protagonist never quite runs out of his supply, which is handy as stopping taking them has some nasty side effects such as death. Not that he's bothered, as he is on an intellectual high, completing the book, learning all sorts of new information, and eventually settling on working out the machinations of the stock market, becoming a financial whizz which brings him to the attention of the influential Carl Van Loon (an emotionally suppressed Robert De Niro). Just one snag, though: Eddie borrowed the money to get his start from a gangster (Andrew Howard).

Well, there are two snags, the other being Eddie cannot live without his drugs, so as with many a movie dealing with narcotic addiction he suffers when he's not pumped up with the stuff coursing through his system. Yet while those other efforts on the subject send their characters spiralling down into a hell of their own devising, here the message was more that addiction was a small price to pay when drugs made you feel so goshdarned good, no matter that it was a fictional hit we were dealing with. In many ways this so-called NZT was the misperception of how addicts see themselves when they're high, so we never get a look at Eddie through the eyes of someone who thinks he's a complete egomaniacal idiot. To be fair, he does get into unenviable scrapes, but the remedy contains so many benefits that the ending sees him with the advantage that many would favour for themselves. It is a fantasy, naturally, and a perfectly diverting one, but how very Hollywood for drugs to save the day. Music by Paul-Leonard Morgan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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