Ever wonder what if feels like to make a very average movie that tries a little too hard to be anything but? Ask director Neil Burger. Burger is the director of Limitless and to be honest, the title of the movie should have been pointless. It’s not a horrible movie by any means, but it felt like wasted potential. They had a decent director with a great cast and they manage to make a middle of the line type film. Its visuals and flare couldn’t cover up the shallow story that brought the movie down. I give them credit for trying a lot of different things and for making a movie based off a very interesting concept, but it just didn’t work.
Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra. Morra is a lazy writer who doesn’t really have any motivation to do anything in life. He’s a mess and a slob and he fits the PERFECT profile for a drug addict. Morra runs into his ex brother in law and gets talking about life. He explains how he’s stuck in a rut and doesn’t really know what to do. The ex brother in law gives him a sample of this new drug called NZT. This drug allows you to access parts of your mind that you didn’t know existed. It pretty much makes you the best version of yourself possible.
Morra quickly becomes addicted to this drug and uses it to help better his life situation. This of course leads to problems involving people who want the drug, cops, his girlfriend and pretty much anyone who hasn’t experienced the drug, but knows of its existence. One character worth mentioning is that of Carl Van Loon, who is played by Robert De Niro. Carl wants Morra to work for him and help him figure out certain stock trades, among other things and you know from the get go that this relationship isn’t going to end in a happy way. The rest of the movie jumps between Morra figuring out more information on NZT while being on the run from several people and trying to help Carl out with some deals in exchange for wealth. It tends to get a little slow and it probably could have lost about 20 or 30 minutes.
Let’s dive into what I liked about this movie. The first thing I enjoyed were the visuals, I will admit that it does feel like they were ripping things off from Enter the Void, but I didn’t mind. It made for an interesting start and it certainly helped through some of the very dull moments in the film. I also feel that the casting was pretty much spot on, Cooper showed a different side of him that was less humor and more smarts. I’ve always liked the guy and I think this movie can help break him apart from being just another one of those guys in The Hangover. De Niro didn’t pack as much intensity as I thought he would, but it was great seeing him in this kind of role opposed to something like Little Fockers.
The big thing that made me not absolutely hate this film was the whole view on drug addiction. Instead of just showing all the positives of NZT, they managed to show you the negative effects. They relate it to real world drug problems that people suffer and it really does show the ugly side. There is a point in this movie where Morra is so addicted that he has to do something that most people would get sick over. That really did show you that it’s not pretty being addicted to drugs and they are very powerful. The movie also manages to change colors and tones whenever Morra is on or off the drug. When you see him on the drug, everything is bright and flashy and life seems to be great. Then when you flip over to the dark tone, everything is sad and depressing and there is a vague feeling of hopelessness. I thought it was refreshing seeing both sides of this story and I almost feel like it spent more time showing the dark tone.
That leads me into what I didn’t enjoy. The part I mentioned above about Cooper doing something sick was also something I didn’t like. It’s hard to explain without spoiling the scene, but all I can say is that it felt out of place and fake. The main problem with this movie was the script. It felt really lazy and all over the place. One minute Morra is trying to find out how to get more of NZT and the next minute he is in the middle of a meeting with Carl. It never seems to focus on one thing for more than five minutes at a time. This really made me lose any connection with the characters. If someone were to come up and kill Morra, I honestly wouldn’t have cared. There wasn’t any character in the movie that truly felt likeable. It’s like they tried so hard on pushing such a weird concept that they didn’t take a step back and fully flesh out all of the details. It was just a bunch of ideas jumbled up into two hours.
Overall, Limitless is an average affair. It’s not exactly a failed opportunity, but it did feel like there could have been so much more. The interesting concept mixed with some unique visuals all get cancelled out by the lazy script that ruins the story and characters. The acting is great and it seemed like everyone was trying to make this one work, but they need to go back to the drawing board and really flesh it out a bit more. I’m curious to know if there is a director’s cut anywhere that maybe has a lot more footage.It certainly felt like things were taken out and that could explain everything. I would suggest skipping this one and waiting for rental.
Limitless – 7/10