Limitless shows limited planning

Let’s see, here … the story of an ordinary slacker who discovers a mystery drug that gives him superhuman mental ability. Honestly though, the writers of Limitless could’ve perhaps benefited from popping a few of those magic pills themselves. This film has a ridiculously great concept but runs out of steam before even the halfway mark. Instead of looking at how many cool options such a set-up provides, they have their players plod along in what looks to be yet another tired, predictable thriller.

Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper star in Limitless

Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper star in Limitless

Let’s see, here … the story of an ordinary slacker who discovers a mystery drug that gives him superhuman mental ability. Fill in your own Charlie Sheen joke here.

Honestly though, the writers of Limitless could’ve perhaps benefited from popping a few of those magic pills themselves. This film has a ridiculously great concept but runs out of steam before even the halfway mark. Instead of looking at how many cool options such a set-up provides, they have their players plod along in what looks to be yet another tired, predictable thriller.

For a movie that supposedly promises unlimited intelligence and imagination — this thing certainly has its limits.

Bradley Cooper stars as Eddie Morra, a shaggy, unshaven and horrifically unfocussed writer, stuck on the first paragraph of his long-overdue novel and dumped by his frustrated girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish). A chance encounter with his ex-wife’s brother finds him in possession of tiny pills that, after ingested, allow him to write an entire novel in the course of four days, learn to play the piano, master a couple of foreign languages and — most importantly, it would seem — shave and get a haircut.

It turns out that this mystery medication (a not-yet-legal substance known as NZT) not only unlocks the mythological 80 per cent of the human brain that we don’t use — it’s quite sought after by a heap of bad, knife-wielding dudes. Especially since the hangover from the ride can be a real killer (literally), and the only way to avoid the crash is to maintain a 100 per cent brain.

Limitless, directed by Neil Burger (The Illusionist) is a great looking movie. From the dizzying opening credits to the scenes in which the characters are first discovering how their brain can go from crawl to sprint in an instant (bright colours, close-ups,letters tumbling from the sky, and — just for you, ladies — those Smurf-blue eyes of Mr. Cooper) make for a pretty cool visual sit. But the storyline itself isn’t up to the pace. When Cooper surrounds himself with business tycoons, including Robert DeNiro (who is still one of the greatest, but unfortunately just cashing another paycheque in this role), Limitless juggles a few too many details, eases up on the tension, and becomes tremendously uninteresting. What Burger and his mates really need are coherence pills.

Out of a possible five stars, I’ll give Limitless a two and a half. The feature is coming soon to the Pen-Mar Cinema Centre in Penticton.

Jason Armstrong is a movie reviewer living in the Okanagan.

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