a film by Neil Burger

Limitless is not a great movie and I don't think anyone can realistically make a claim that it is, but at the same time, it is a rather surprisingly fun film to watch - to a point that is. The main reason for this surprising (to a point) sense of fun is surely not the direction nor the writing (both rather mediocre at best, downright nonsensical at worst) but instead is the film's star Bradley Cooper. Not a great actor by any stretch (though he does seem to posses something akin to potential and could be on the verge of a rightful kind of stardom), but more than well suited to play the cocky, smartass protagonist of Limitless, and thus helping to make this otherwise quite silly (and quite predictable) movie a bit better than it otherwise probably would be - or should be.

As far as the premise goes, Limitless is the story of Eddie Morra, a slacker sci-fi writer (the aforementioned Mr. Cooper) who, through a chance encounter with his sleazy, dealing ex-brother-in-law, stumbles upon a drug that will allow a person to successfully breach every little nook and cranny of their brain, thus turning them into a near omnipotent genius. Of course this turns our once slacking Morra into a brilliant and charming man-about-town, and after getting the typical makeover with a new hairstyle and designer suits, learning Italian and everything about renaissance art, winning back the girl who had earlier dumped him for being such a slacker (who says cool clothes and a swanky new bank account can't get you women), into a multi-millionaire corporate wheeler and dealer. Of course this also lands our boy into a deep addiction and a heap of life-threatening trouble.

Questions of why this sudden uptick in brainpower doesn't drive Cooper's Morra insane with a veritable flood of incoming information (from 20% use to 100% use of your brain in a matter of seconds and not even a flutter) or why he keeps his Chinatown walk-up even after he has millions to flaunt around (he only finally gets new digs when for security reasons he needs a fortress of sorts wherein to hide-out) or why he doesn't see the most obvious things that are about to happen to him even though he is now a super-brain or about a dozen other implausible plot points that happen (or don't happen) throughout the movie are never brought up and certainly never answered. But then again, Brad Cooper is one charming motherfucker and may very well make you forget just what you were questioning in the first place. Okay, perhaps not, but at least his performance (sort of like an amiable, albeit low rent George Clooney or perhaps a Matthew McConaughey without the drawl) is enough of a distraction to allow your suspension of disbelief to kick in and get you through the rest of the movie.

The film also stars Robert De Niro in yet another thankless, below-him kind of role, as Eddie's eventual big business boss, and Abbie Cornish as the girl with obvious shallow morals that Eddie wins back by being cooler than he was before (and getting a haircut), she too in a role much beneath her usual talents. But this film, for better or for worse (and we are leaning toward the latter here), belongs to Cooper and his schtick of cocksure charmer and pretty boy smooth-talker. He has pulled it off before (successfully in the inexplicably hilarious The Hangover and not so successfully in the wretched A-Team) and here he seems to do it again (more successfully than one but not near as successfully as the other) but what a waste of time it ends up being. Perhaps the next time, even though he is good at what he does now, Cooper could give those acting chops a bigger stretch - I really think he could succeed at such an endeavor. Let's just hope it is a better vehicle than Limitless was.

And in the end, I suppose we should be thankful for one thing - if original lead Shia LeBeouf hadn't gotten into a car accident and dropped out of the movie, we would have had to sit through that inevitable fiasco instead. All things considered...this silly but quite enjoyable movie is much better off just the way it is. [04/01/11]