STARRING: Robert De Niro, Bradley
Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth, Robert John Burke, Patricia
Kalember, Tomas Arana, T.V. Carpio, Jennifer Butler, Andrew Howard, Eddie J.
Fernandez, Ann Marie Seal
2011, 105 Minutes, Directed by:
Limitless a science fiction movie?
This is a legitimate question.
On the surface it appears to be so: a slacker copywriter played by Bradley
Cooper (Face in the A-Team remake and the now defunct Alias TV
show) starts using a new experimental drug that makes him use that underutilized
90% of his brain.
(It is considered to be a
truism that humans only use 10% of their brain, a “fact” ascribed to Albert
Einstein and endorsed by those Scientology leaflets which want you to part with
your money. It is however a myth, read
The drug gives Cooper’s
character almost superhuman abilities. Imagine if you can somehow clearly recall
each piece of information you have ever ingested throughout your entire
existence, including even those Bruce Lee movies that subliminally taught you
how to fight and ward off muggers. As you might think this gives him an unfair
advantage and Cooper soon becomes involved in the world of high finance.
The experimental drug is
certainly a science fiction plot device, but what the movie does with it isn’t
exactly sci-fi. Instead it repeats several drug movie clichés: the hapless
junkie getting involved with the wrong criminal crowd, our hero finding he has
to cope without the drugs, etc.
Several plot strands the movie
picks up never gets resolved or muddled over: so who did murder that woman in
the hotel room? Who made the drug to begin with and why aren’t they flooding our
pharmacies or back streets with them (nasty after effects aside)? Like 1978’s
The Fury or 1981’s Scanners
one can almost imagine a clandestine war between super-powered individuals vying
None of this actually happens,
which leaves the question whether Limitless is in fact a science fiction
That aside, there is much to
recommend Limitless. The screenplay is inventive and clever (we watched
it as a double bill with the brain-dead Nicolas Cage actioner
Drive Angry – guess which one we
preferred?) and acting is decent too. Illusionist-director Neil Burger
pulls out every audiovisual trick from his sleeve in an attempt to prevent the
somewhat talky movie from becoming dull. Luckily all the flashy cinematography
and editing never becomes distracting and Limitless is one of the year’s
more pleasant surprises.
Worth checking out even if the
sci-fi geek in you were secretly hoping for a super-powered muties vs. norms
battle royale . . .