Limitless (2011)

Limitless is a film revolving around a drug called NZT, with this drug the user is LIMITLESS. The film stars Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) as Eddie Morra- a failed writer who is gradually losing himself to depression. When one day he runs into his ex-wife’s brother who supplies him with the drug, in moments Morra undergoes a transformation which allows him to understand things as never before. ‘I was blind but now I see’ remains the catch phrase throughout much of the film, we are given a clear sense of it, the lights come on and suddenly Morra and we by proxy are aware of everything.

The basic idea of the film is that a drug is produced which allows anyone to realise one hundred percent of their potential. The premise being that we only typically access ten percent of our brain normally. Under the influence of NZT a person could do anything they wanted, ‘Math became useful’; ‘I learned the piano in three days’ so things become commonplace within the film and allow us to have a better sense of what the drug does.

Limitless then deals with some of the effects of addiction, at times showing how destructive it can be to a person while in others it presents the mind bending psychosis. This is no ‘fear and loathing in Las Vegas’, nothing quite so incredible happens that the world is flipped on its head. Rather we see the effects of the addiction, not in a stylised way and not quite such as they might mirror the actual effects of the drug. There is a permeating sense of realism that is not quite realised to its fullest, in many ways to the films advantage.

The acting in the film is delightful with Bradley Cooper moving away from ‘The Hangover’ into a slightly more serious role but still maintaining the dry witticisms which allowed his rise to fame. Parts of the film have him being incredibly serious which is reflected well by the suit and tie ensemble donned from the moment of realisation that he looks like some sort of vagrant. Throughout the life and death situations however sheer desperation is imitated brilliantly giving Limitless a style somewhat reminiscent of ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’.

De Niro however seems to occupy much the same role as he always does, with a few notable exceptions. In Limitless he plays an energy tycoon by the name of Carl Van Loon at presents the glass ceiling which halts Morra’s (Cooper) rise to financial fame. Though the acting is commendable it can hardly be called one of De Niro’s best roles simply because he seems to jump from film to film type cast as the veteran miser with ‘Little Fockers’, ‘Machete’ and ‘Analyze That’ to name just a few of the roles which have presented him as such.

The effective lighting of the film must be mentioned as it records the shift between Morra on NZT and Morra off it. While not using the Limitless pill the lighting remains dark and shadowed representing the depression of the character to such a degree that the audience cannot help but be pulled down with it. When on NZT though, the world comes alive, colours become more vibrant and the world becomes a better place.

Limitless then is not just some child’s fantasy of ‘what if’ but rather a well realised and extremely visceral representation of an adults ‘what if’.