Netflix UK film review: Limitless
Ivan Radford | On 01, Mar 2015Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Neil Burger
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro
Watch Limitless online in the UK: Netflix UK / TalkTalk TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play / Wuaki.tv
It’s not often you get to see a happy film about hard drugs. But just when you were getting sick of on-screen overdoses, deaths and grimy one-bed flats, along comes Limitless. It’s loud, thrilling, fast-paced – and happy. It’s the anti-Requiem for a Dream, or Trainspotting’s cheerful cousin.
Poor Eddie Morra (Cooper). A washed-up writer who hasn’t managed to write anything, he’s a long-haired damp squib of a man. No wonder his girlfriend (Cornish) leaves him.
But then he discovers (via his sleazy ex-brother-in-law) NZT-48, a clear pill that looks a bit like a squashed jelly bean and unlocks 100 per cent of his brain. Churning out a novel (nay, a sci-fi masterpiece) in a matter of hours, Eddie suddenly becomes smart and funny – nothing short of a genius, with an infinite capacity to remember stuff. And, just to rub it in for all us boring, normal 20 per cent-ers, he looks a lot like Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper in full-on sexy mode.
Cooper is brilliant in the role, sliding up and down the loser/douchebag scale like nobody’s business. He’s as believable twitching in a puddle on the street as he is playing the stock markets, which is quite handy, because that’s exactly what the plot has him doing. Wowing businessman Carl van Loon (De Niro) with his mega-brain, he makes billions of dollars in minutes, flashing his smile and shiny blue eyes at anyone who will listen to his smarmy, intelligent spiel.
It’s impossible not to like the guy, especially when it turns out that NZT-48 is non-FDA approved (well, duh) and could wind up killing him. Trying to beat the drug to the job are some token Russian gangsters, who also want their hands on the magic pill – just in case the movie isn’t exciting enough already. Thanks to director Neil Burger, though, it definitely is.
Shooting things like he’s David Fincher’s long-lost son, Burger flings the camera all over the frame, multiplying Bradders when he’s high and bringing out the fish eye lens when things start to wind down. It’s eye-popping stuff: Eddie’s creative writing boost is accompanied by giant letters raining down from the ceiling and impaling his desk like a dictionary spin-off from Tetris, while one repeated riff sees DoP Jo Willems zooming in on the screen over and over, a relentless cycle of New York city hurtling towards the foreground.
Naturally, there are plot holes all over the shop, echoed by Eddie’s increasingly severe blackouts. But in between the random deaths, silly science, and Eddie’s high-flying career there’s a solid action film that’s simply buzzing with energy. De Niro and Abbie Cornish have little to do other than stand back and watch Bradley Cooper, but at the rate he’s running around, it’s hardly worth complaining. Eddie uses 100 per cent of his brain; switch off yours and this drug-addled caper is a cracking ride.
Limitless is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.