Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth, Robert John Burke
Director: Neil Burger
Writer(s): Leslie Dixon, Alan Glynn (novel)
Cinematography: Jo Willems
Original Score: Paul Leonard Morgan, Nico Muhly
Running Time: 104 Mins.
Bradley Cooper hs been quietly chipping away in an attempt to prove himself leading-man material, following bit parts in the likes of Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch he has balanced massive hit (The Hangover) with disappointing (at least financially) flop with The A-Team. So here he comes again, with another hammer blow to explode onto the scene well and truly taking a starring role (he’s never off-screen) and holding a film with very little help and I am pleased to say he does so with aplomb, it is Cooper who makes Limitless worth a watch…it’s just a shame that it cannot be any more than just that.
Director Neil Burger previously directed Ed Norton in The Painted Veil and The Illusionist, both very good but both (oddly) underwhelming, and good or enjoyable as they are neither will stick with you beyond the closing credits. The same can be said of Limitless, I am struggling to put my finger on why and don’t like to criticize an undeniably entertaining film too much, that would seem to do all involved a discredit, however there is just “something” lacking, all the more odd given the dynamic central turn and the potentially thought-provoking subject matter…what would you do if you could “access” all of your brain-power?
That is what happens upon a bedraggled looking Eddie Morra (Cooper) randomly comes across his ex-wifes brother, a drug dealer and all-round dodgy character, needless to say having been given a mysterious pill Morra becomes addicted to the effects it has, he finishes a novel that was previously causing writer’s block and eventually plays the stock market to make himself millions, all the while aiding/outsmarting Robert De Niro’s Van Loon. It’s hardly a complex plot but using the source material The Dark Fields (novel written by Glynn) to good effect Dixon has crafted an engaging script that, for it’s running time, will keep you wondering where the film will go next.
As i said before this is ultimately Cooper’s film, he moves from twitchy and scruffy, to smooth businessman to smart senator with ease making subtle shifts in gear to leave us in no doubt he is the same guy throughout albeit with a touch more intelligence and confidence, not many would have managed such a role as well, no show-boating just believable, likeable and funny in equal measure. De Niro provides his usual “phone it in” character piece to gain his name above the title and Cornish and Friel are game enough as the women in Morra’s life, alas they are given next to nothing to do being the strong-willed girlfriend and basil-expostion respectfully.
Having considered carefully I would surmise that Limitless just isn’t “enough” of anything to be memorable or worth returning too, yes Cooper is great as Morra but you wouldn’t want to go through more than one sitting of him as we see where he came from, where he’s been and where he’s going…there’s nothing left. I would suggest that had it had more thrilling set-pieces (nudging it deeper into thriller rather than drama territory) or more convincing elements of threat (again making it more gripping), or even a more involved (in the plot) support of colourful characters there would be an element beyond just, well, the limits the film has imposed upon itself.
Yes the visuals pop and fizz, jump zooms, experimental camera angles, so on and so forth, but in context this amounts to little more than flash on the surface, something which would have been more beneficial married with an underlying exciting strain.
Limitless achieves two things, firstly that Cooper can carry a film, and two it is entertaining for 104 minutes, but beyond that there is nothing which is sad given a premise that was Limitless as the film’s title.