Ever wonder what would happen if you could take a drug that would make you the best version of yourself? Giving you super human abilities that would help you become smarter and faster, always one step ahead of everyone? Limitless is that idea on film. Director Neil Burger fully embraces the thought of a super drug and he transfers it to film, but with a few flaws. The visuals are the real key in this film. The opening is very cold and lifeless with lots of washed out and shaded colors, but once Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) takes the drug, his world becomes brighter, more vivid and full of life. The transformation between these two states of being is one of the main positives in Limitless. Burger shows us what this drug does to an average person, he does everything he can from an interesting camera zooming technique to letters falling off the ceiling when Morra is typing his book. Everything that can be shown is shown and it really helps you believe the story and more importantly, like the story.
I had problems with Limitless in theaters, mainly because it felt like an edited version of a grand idea. I liked the concept and I even thought Robert De Niro delivered a somewhat surprisingly good performance compared to his recent films like Little Fockers. Bradley Cooper is a rising star, jumping from The Hangover to The A-Team to this in a matter of a few years. The guy can act. He’s hilarious when he needs to be, slick when he needs to be and serious when the mood calls for it. I think Limitless is the best display of his talents because he is given such a wide range of emotions to work with. He starts the film out as a writer who can’t focus on anything, always getting distracted with day to day things. He’s messy and generally uninteresting to be around. He then shifts to the perfect version of himself after taking NZT, a drug that makes you limitless. From that point he switches to the Bradley Cooper we’re all use to. Getting the ladies, driving the fast cars and generally being better than everyone else, but it’s the last part of the film that Cooper shows he can hang in there with the best of him, when the drug starts messing him and he becomes addicted to NZT. Watching him become that drugged out guy who’s just looking for a quick and desperate fix was what really showed me what Cooper can do. He goes from having nothing, to having everything to having nothing without a sweat.
Robert De Niro doesn’t do much with his role as Carl Van Loon, but his on screen presence can be felt. He plays that powerful money monger perfectly. He’s confident and dangerous and it’s really fun watching him and Cooper play off each other for most of the running time. One is always managing to top the other and it keeps repeating until the end.
Limitless isn’t without its problems though. After you see over the visual flare and neat camera tricks, Limitless shows its true colors. It’s essentially an idea stretched out in length. Eventually you become tired of it and not even good performances and trippy visuals can save a film that doesn’t focus on any idea or clue. It starts to feel slow and sometimes pointless.
Click here to read my full theatrical review of Limitless.
Video: Fox provides Limitless with a near perfect 1080p transfer. The colors come in a wide variety, from washed out grays to cool blues and blacks. This film is a perfect example of how Blu-ray can help the viewer’s really experience the film. Everything before Morra takes the drug is dark and droopy, but once he pops the NZT, the colors instantly get bright and detailed. Skin tones are life like and most of the detail is as clear as can be. There are a few problems here and there, but the transfer is spot on for the most part. A great representation of what Neil Burger was looking for as far as visuals go.
Audio: Limitless features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is very active and full of detail. The movie takes place in New York and the audio track takes full advantage of the busy city, with lots of sound happening all over the place, from busy traffic to the general chatter of people walking the streets. Dialogue comes across the main channel very clear and easy to understand while most of the action elements come at you from both the front and back speakers.
Limitless comes with a small list of extras, all presented in high definition.
- Audio Commentary by director Neil Burger: A decent commentary with Burger. He shares a lot of details and thoughts that went into the film. Discusses how he achieved some of the cooler special effects.
- A Man Without Limits (HD): Interviews with cast and crew.
- Taking it to the limit: The Making of Limitless (HD): Making of feature featuring more interviews with Cooper, Burger and crew. Standard stuff.
- Alternate Ending (HD): I wouldn’t even call this an alternate ending. It plays the same as the regular ending but with something cut from it.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)
- Limitless features two versions of the film, an Unrated Extended Cut and the original Theatrical Cut.
Overall, Limitless is good idea that transfers to film very well, visually. The film benefits from Neil Burger‘s visual eye and Bradley Cooper‘s excellent range of emotion. Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish lend some good supporting roles that help keep the film from sliding off into completely dull territory. There were a few moments in the film that drag it down and the general ending of it all seems rather weak. I will say that the Unrated Extended Cut adds a few more scenes of violence, sex and language, which would have easily earned the film an R rating. While these added scenes don’t really enhance the story in any real way, they do help give it a little more edge. I like the Unrated Extended Cut a tad bit more than the Theatrical Cut, but it doesn’t drastically change anything. It makes an okay film a little better.
Fox provides Limitless with a near perfect picture transfer that captures the wide array of colors and effects and a perfect audio track that is always full of detail and range. The special features are lacking anything interesting and unique, but the offering of two cuts of the film is the deal breaker. If you liked Limitless in theaters then check out the Unrated Extended Cut as I’m sure it will only enhance your thoughts on the film, but if the film wasn’t for you then you will probably want to skip this release. The new cut gives a more adult tone, but it doesn’t change some of the pacing issues or story problems. Limitless is good, but mostly because of the visual direction by Neil Burger and the spot on performance by Bradley Cooper, not because of the story that comes off as less than engaging at times.
Movie -Theatrical Cut – 7/10, Unrated Extended Cut – 7.5/10
Video – 9/10
Audio – 10
Special Features – 5/10
Click here to buy Limitless on Amazon.com