Eddie is a down and out New York writer until he comes to possess a pill that gives him the ability to access the full capacity of his brain. Soon Eddie realizes the use of his newfound superior intelligence and success comes at a heavy price as mysterious antagonists pursue him and dangers of the amazing new drug are revealed.
‘Limitless’ comes from writer/director Neil Burger whose previous films have included ‘The Lucky Ones’ and ‘The Illusionist’. This film brings an interesting scenario to the audience, and one that allows us to watch the events unfold on the screen while prompting us to consider what would we do in the same situation, would you take the pill…..or let the opportunity slide by?
Taking place in New York the film makes good use of recognisable locations, while establishing the characters and the relationships quickly in the opening few scenes of the film. Wasting little time and with minimalistic exposition the macguffin of the film is introduced early on with the majority of time spent exploring the implications of decisions made by the central character early on.
There is effective use of misdirection and ambiguous threads which set up an intriguing scenario that plays well on an initial viewing but is unlikely to hold up to much scrutiny with subsequent viewings. Throughout the course of the film as these various threads are explored further, some of the connections and explanations tend to be somewhat anticlimactic after an interesting start.
Without being action packed, ‘Limitless’ does maintain an edgy pace throughout and makes great use of dialogue as a means of articulating the impact of what the characters are experiencing an certain points in the film.
Bradley Cooper delivers a good performance in his role, however here he lacks a certain strength of presence on screen which holds back some of the weight of the performance. Cooper has proven an excellent choice in ensemble casts in previous films, and is still to deliver something really compelling in a leading dramatic role, he appears to be so close to that however and with the right script will hopefully achieve that in the near future. Robert De Niro delivers what is likely to be his strongest performance in a number of years which is unfortunate given the strength of some of his past roles, he definitely brings a strong contribution to this film however and works well with Bradley Cooper.
Without entering into spoiler territory the conclusion in the film doesn’t tend to do justice to the journey that has been taken to get to that point, and leaves a few uncertainties not only around how some outcomes eventuated but what impact the events of the film actually had on the central character and how their implied future direction would unfold.
Overall ‘Limitless’ is an enjoyable and interesting film that makes for a great ‘what if it was me’ scenario conversation piece after a viewing with friends. All aspects of the film come together in a decent manner but without producing anything necessarily stronger than the sum of its parts.
‘Limitless’ is released in cinemas around Australia on Thursday 17 March, I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars.