Like a thoroughbred that busts out of the gate only to fade in the home stretch, Limitless gets off to a rousing start, providing an entertaining hour in which we follow a charming slacker, frustrated writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), who’s given NZT, a mysterious drug that turns him into a super genius overnight. Before you know it, his novel is finished in record time, he learns languages in four days and he takes tiny investments and turns them into fortunes. This transformation allows Morra to win back Lindy (Abbie Cornish), his dissatisfied fiancée, but it comes at a cost. Less than subtle regarding his financial doings, he comes to the attention of Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) a corporate shark that intends on having Eddie work for him by hook or by crook. Then there’s the matter of his rapidly dwindling supply of NZT and his inability to procure any more.
Some of director Neil Burger’s attempts at visualizing how Morra’s gifts affect him are fun (dig the multiple Eddies getting his apartment in order) and some tiresome (More pictures of firing synapses? Please…) but the film’s tone and Cooper’s engaging performance keep us hooked. However, the script by Leslie Dixon, adapting the novel by Alan Glynn, has more holes in it that can be conveniently overlooked. The stash of pills doesn’t dwindle quickly enough, there’s one too many subplots (do we really need a murder here?) and the path Morra embarks on at the end is hardly one that a genius bent on change would choose. In the end, once Limitless resorts to a bit of vampirism toward the end, you realize that, like it’s hero, it isn’t as smart as it wants to be.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at email@example.com.