Thursday, August 4, 2011


The Nateflix Review of Limitless
by Nate Hensley
Bradley Cooper is a schlub.
Rephrase – in Limitless, Bradley Cooper PLAYS a schlub. He has gross hair, low self confidence, and he’s bad not only with women, but pretty much with everyone. And he’s at loose ends trying to finish his epic science fiction novel which, from the sound of it, is going to be pretty terrible.
And then he receives a little help, in the form of a clear pill. He gets it from his scumbag drug dealing ex brother-in-law, who has some connections with “a lab.” The pill allows the user to use the full 100% of their brain capacity (up from the generally accepted percentage of 30ish), granting Cooper efficiency, organization, confidence, instantaneous pattern recognition (like A Beautiful Mind without the imaginary friends), and total recall of everything he’s ever seen, read, or heard.
It doesn’t take him long to devise a plan for spectacular wealth and power, and takes him about as long to implement said plan. However, there are some complications — his ex-girlfriend, who loves him again now that he isn’t a dullard, Robert DeNiro, a financial guru who wants Cooper under his thumb, the unknown killer who wacked the drug dealer and is gunning for all his clients, and the crazed gangster who Cooper borrowed money from.
(Side note — my only major beef with the movie is the gangster. If Cooper is so smart, how did he overlook the guy who threatened to cut the skin from his torso, pull it up over his head, and tie it in a knot. How do you forget that, pill or no pill? However, his presence does lead to my favorite scene in the movie.)
Oh, plus he’s starting to freak out and lose huge chunks of time. Probably not a good sign.

The most refreshing thing about Limitless is that it’s hard to put it into a box. It has some wit, but it isn’t a comedy. It has some pathos, but it isn’t a drama. There are a couple of good action scenes, but its not an action movie. Nor does it play up the sci-fi angle of the drug. It avoids turning the effects of the drug into super powers, and thankfully keeps Cooper from trying to use his newfound abilities for the betterment of mankind. I think we’ve all had quite enough of that.

It’s just a taut, clever, visually slick and well-produced movie that has at its core a very novel theme – drugs are awesome, and make us better people.

Cooper is really coming along as a leading man. He loses a lot of usual smarmy charm in this performance. He’s a little less than convincing as the loser (or maybe it’s just the unconvincing loser-hair wig he’s wearing), but he’s spot on as the man operating on a higher level than the rest of us.

Overall, Limitless is a very engaging, very satisfying movie. I can’t quite say that it achieves greatness, although it does have a few great moments, but it is a damn good piece of entertainment.

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