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April 11, 2011 | by  | in Film |
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Limitless

The amount of psuedo-superhero movies we’ve seen over the last few years is innumerable, yet still films are adding themselves to the line – this time, Limitless, a sci-fi drama starring up and coming leading man Bradley Cooper. Cooper is Eddie Morra, a dishevelled, depressed, struggling writer in New York. A chance encounter with his drug-dealing former brother-in-law leads to Eddie acquiring a new drug called NZT. His depression driving him to extremes, Eddie takes the drug and immediately feels his brain functioning at a higher level.

The visual effects and cinematic trickery used to show “Enhanced Eddie” fight with Cooper’s performance to be the film’s standout element. Letters rain down from the ceiling in a neat visualisation of Eddie’s brain as he writes; multiple Eddies work together to complete tasks; the camera regularly and rapidly zooms in to show Eddie losing track of time while on the drug.

Inexplicably leaving the writing game and turning his new found brilliance to the world of finance, Eddie becomes a day trader. Enhanced by NZT, he can’t help but be a wild success. From here, Limitless devolves into a typical thriller involving Russian mobsters and Gordan Gecko-esque Wall Street moguls. It’s boring and baffling to hear Eddie talk of “mergers”, “share prices” and “algorithms”, and his motivation for the change is never truly established. Why would a former writer want to become a Wall Street trader?

Eventually we’re introduced to the negative side effects of NZT, including random memory loss and withdrawal symptoms. This and other plot devices, introduced solely to increase suspense, feel unnecessary and forced. It would have been more interesting to explore what someone on NZT is capable beyond the banal and predictable world of money and finance; instead, we get a cliched thriller where everyone wants the mighty McGuffin and will stop at nothing to get it. Yawn.

Limitless is enjoyable at times, but is largely a frustrating watch.Russian mobsters and financialese extinguish the promise of the premise and we are left with a strictly orthodox thriller. Visual wizardry and competent acting throughout make it watchable, but it never gets beyond that. We are told that the drug NZT allows the user access to 100% of their brain power. Limitless only operates at 50 per cent.

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