'Limitless' a fun pill to swallow



Article Published: Mar. 24, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Limitless' a fun pill to swallow

Bradley Cooper stars in 'Limitless.'



frank@mountaintimes.com

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.

And the ones that the smarmy drug dealer gives you solve plenty of problems for all.

They also make for an enjoyable mystery-thriller in "Limitless," starring Bradley Cooper ("The Hangover") and some of the most fittingly frantic cinematography since Terry Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Sharply written, quick on the draw and riddled with dark humor, "Limitless" also benefits from engaging performances and solid material.

Based on the novel, "The Dark Fields," by Alan Glynn, "Limitless" is the story of struggling writer Eddie Morra (Cooper), down on his luck, recently dumped by love of his life Lindy (Abbie Cornish, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age") and very behind on deadline for his book.

But things change when he runs into old friend and drug dealer Vernon (Johnny Whitworth, "3:10 to Yuma"), who gives Eddie a mysterious pill called NZT, apparently designed to unlock the human brain's full potential.

Eddie's surprised when it actually works, opening his mind to knowledge he'd long thought was forgotten, clearing his mind to notice things he'd never noticed before, and granting him the motivation to accomplish nearly anything - in other words, his potential is limitless. He accomplishes more in one day than an entire month and is instantly hooked.

Upon gaining an inordinate number of pills, Eddie manages to turn his life around 180, becoming an overnight success in finance, language, culture, problem-solving - anything to which he commits himself. Subsequently, he catches the attention of some corporate bigwigs, including business mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro, "The Godfather: Part II").

But, of course, there are drawbacks. As NZT's side effects start rearing their ugly heads, Eddie begins to realize things aren't quite as they seem. Who else has access to the drug? Who could gain the most from having it? Who's the creepy Christopher Guest-looking guy in a Members-Only jacket (Tomas Arana, "Gladiator") following him?

"Limitless" moves at a quick pace, just like its protagonist. And Cooper shines as Eddie, effortlessly switching from one character (downtrodden Eddie) to another (NZT Eddie) like flipping a switch.

Director Neil Burger ("The Illusionist" 2006) succeeds in placing viewers in Eddie's shoes, effectively presenting the world from the point of view of a man seeking more input than "Short Circuit's" Johnny 5 on a bender. It's a frenetic, energetic world filled with possibility, and the camerawork used to portray this is nothing short of hypnotizing.

Like its miracle drug, "Limitless" is a hell of a ride.

"Limitless," rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 22 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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