Limitless (2011) (PG-13)

Eddie Morra is a failing writer. He suffers from writer's block, as many do, and he lacks the ability to concentrate himself on the task at hand. Going from day to day, he is forced to resort to drinking to try to stimulate his inspiration but it fails.
Everything starts to go downhill for him—his girlfriend leaves him, the company that he has a contract with is loosing their enthusiasm, and life itself is starting to crumble. Eddie resembles your run of the mill hobo, his hair is long and unkempt and his beard is untrimmed and starting to become scraggly.
On a chance meeting, he runs into his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon, from a marriage that lasted for a very short time. Vernon was a drug dealer but he's out of that now, or so he says. When Eddie confesses that he has yet to write a single word of the book that should have been done a long time ago, Vernon tells him that he may have a solution.
A little clear pill called NZT.
After some debating, Eddie takes the pill and wham, he's instantly smarter. See, the thing about NZT is, is that it supposedly lets you harness all 100% of your brain at any given moment. This supposedly makes Eddie's IQ go up to the "four digits".
Eddie goes home and pumps out forty pages of the book that he wasn't writing. Turning it in, his company thinks that it's great. But then, like all highs, he drops.
NZT made Eddie clean and fastidious, the best possible version of himself. He's Superman and Spiderman combined.
So, as is the case with many pills, NZT makes you realize how boring your life was before you took it. Eddie needs more and goes to find Vernon. Once found, you soon realize that Vernon was in this business way over his head.
Instead of going into thriller/conspiracy mode here, which the movie should have; "Limitless" makes a half-hearted poke at comedy. It's either that or Bradley Cooper as Eddie was a far worse decision than I originally thought. Instances happen like sitting next to corpses on a couch like they were still alive and random flashbacks that are supposed to be amusing but come across as trying too hard.
Now Eddie is immersed in the world of the underground of NZT. But it doesn't become about that. Instead, it's about Eddie's very quick rise to fame.
He trades stocks and plays the market, all while slowly becoming addicted to NZT. But naturally, things come with a price.
"Limitless" has many things wrong with it. It glorifies the drug while simultaneously trying to shame it. When Eddie is on NZT, everything is more colorful. Before, the world the dull and gray but now it's yellow and blue and green and all sorts of appealing, bright colors. It seems like NZT was based right off of Ritalin, the drug used to treat ADHD.
While the movie tries to stay true to science and medicine by inserting random facts and statistics that are supposed to give it credibility, it comes across as hasty and not thought through.
Once "Limitless" gets its feet, it does take off running at a reasonable speed.
Bradley Cooper is really not the best pick for this role, it would have been better with a more diverse actor like Guy Pearce, or a young Kevin Spacey.
Robert De Niro, as usual, is the best part of this movie. Unfortunately, his character isn't given enough lines.
The ending is unsatisfying and leaves several questions unanswered including a whole side-plot device that appears to be nothing except some extra time to make the movie longer.
"Limitless" is not boundless as its title would like to lead you to believe. It struggles to reproduce the success of the previous movie that it seems to resemble, "Inception". Sadly, no movie can be what "Inception" is.
It may not be the best or the most well-written, but "Limitless" is entertaining. By the end of the movie you may wonder why you watched it, but hey, it passed the time for almost two hours.

Score: 2 and half stars out of 4

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