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Review: Limitless

Limitless
03.17.2011by:
4 10

PLOT: A struggling writer (Bradley Cooper) gets access to a super-drug that artificially elevates his IQ to genius level.

REVIEW: LIMITLESS is a mess. I guess I should have expected as much given the shifting release dates and hasty re-titling (with THE DARK FIELDS its original, more appropriate title) but I held out hope, as the premise is a good one. LIMITLESS could have been a nifty, OUTER LIMITS/TWILIGHT ZONE-style thriller, but the problem is that it just canít figure out what it wants to be. Black comedy? Drama? Thriller? Horror? Action? It tries to be all these genres, but doesnít even come close to succeeding.


To give LIMITLESS some credit, the first forty minutes of the film are actually pretty solid. It starts off great, with Cooper dangling on the edge of his apartment high-rise, with thugs trying to break into his apartment. In true noir-style, he flashes back onto the events that led to his current predicament, after a nifty set of opening credits that zoom us around New York City. This technique gave my buddy a headache, but I dug it- although it should have been restricted to the credits, as it gets used enough to be grating by the fifth or sixth time we zoom through the city.

Bradley Cooper makes an appealing leading man, and heís believable as both the unkempt wannabe writer he starts off as, and the charismatic superman he becomes later. Director Neil Burger (who showed a lot of promise with THE ILLUSIONIST a few years ago) uses an interesting technique where, when off the drug, the film has a de-saturated, cold look- before transitioning to bold, warm colors once he ingests the drug. Thereís also a cool sequence where Cooper gets attacked by some thugs, and fends them off remembering a Bruce Lee fight-scene from WAY OF THE DRAGON.


Sadly, once Cooper goes off the drug for the first time, the film grinds to a halt. A subplot involving Cooperís memory lapses (and possible murderousness) while on the drug goes nowhere, as does a stupid bit involving his ex-wife, played by Anna Friel, which adds nothing to the film. The film REALLY goes off the rail during a brief bit involving his love interest, played by Abbie Cornish, where she wields a five year-old wearing skates as a deadly weapon (donít ask). This bit was enough to almost make me totally write-the film off (and seems destined to become a YouTube joke a la WICKER MAN within a few months), but the film actually recovers a bit during the third act. Then, it once again crashes and burns during the idiotic conclusion, which seems tacked on and resolves absolutely nothing thatís been happening over the previous 100 minutes. It almost seems like the filmmakers couldnít decide how to end it, so they just didnít.


As for the prominently billed Robert De Niro, I wrote a ďDear So-and-SoĒ column about him a week back, and LIMITLESS perfectly demonstrates the lackluster roles heís been getting, and the lazy phoned-in performances heís been giving as a result. Firstly- itís a very minor role, with him playing a shady Wall Street big-shot that uses Cooper as a way to make billions and De Niroís talents are wasted.

Itís really too bad LIMITLESS ended up being such a mess. There really was the potential for a good film there, and who knows- maybe thereís a good version lying on a cutting-room floor somewhere. Suffice to say, this isnít it.

Source: JoBlo.com

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10:02AM on 03/17/2011
It's a mess? Aww crap, I was actually looking forward to this.
It's a mess? Aww crap, I was actually looking forward to this.
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10:18AM on 03/17/2011
Too bad, the story was pretty original and Cooper has leading man material...
Too bad, the story was pretty original and Cooper has leading man material...
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10:22AM on 03/17/2011
Despite the bad review, this is one of the movies I am looking forward to the most. I think it looks cool and interesting.

Big fan of Cooper.
Despite the bad review, this is one of the movies I am looking forward to the most. I think it looks cool and interesting.

Big fan of Cooper.
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10:26AM on 03/17/2011
Every time I see the trailer, I want to go on a drug high.
Every time I see the trailer, I want to go on a drug high.
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12:18PM on 03/17/2011
Thank you for answering my question of whether or not to spend money on this!

Side note: Idea for a JoBlo top ten list - Top Ten movies that sucked but actually have a worthwhile director's cut... All the talk about Daredevil and this last line of this article make me curious.
Thank you for answering my question of whether or not to spend money on this!

Side note: Idea for a JoBlo top ten list - Top Ten movies that sucked but actually have a worthwhile director's cut... All the talk about Daredevil and this last line of this article make me curious.
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7:53PM on 03/17/2011
That's actually a really good idea. I'll pass it along dude.
That's actually a really good idea. I'll pass it along dude.
1:01PM on 03/17/2011
aannddd Deniro continues to star in movies that destroy people's souls.
aannddd Deniro continues to star in movies that destroy people's souls.
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1:57PM on 03/17/2011
This is the problem with all these high-concept movies. The writers come up with a brilliant idea for a story, and they think that's all they need, the concept. After that, they just wing it for the rest of the script
This is the problem with all these high-concept movies. The writers come up with a brilliant idea for a story, and they think that's all they need, the concept. After that, they just wing it for the rest of the script
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6:55PM on 03/17/2011
Dangitt... I'm still gonna check it out... I was looking forward to this for so long!
Dangitt... I'm still gonna check it out... I was looking forward to this for so long!
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-1
10:13PM on 03/17/2011

well that narrows it down

looks like I am going to see the Lincoln Lawyer, which I believe will do good in the box office as a dark horse. Maybe $80 million in domestic ticket sales when its all said and done.
looks like I am going to see the Lincoln Lawyer, which I believe will do good in the box office as a dark horse. Maybe $80 million in domestic ticket sales when its all said and done.
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+0
6:05PM on 03/21/2011
Wow, we're getting closer to agreeing, Chris. While I didn't think it was a "mess," I was hoping for a lot more from its premise, which it didn't live up to. It works alright as an action-thriller, it just needed to go deeper into the possibilities it brings up. Cooper was alright, but there just wasn't much to the character, while De Niro just phoned in another performance. Here's my full review:

[link]
Wow, we're getting closer to agreeing, Chris. While I didn't think it was a "mess," I was hoping for a lot more from its premise, which it didn't live up to. It works alright as an action-thriller, it just needed to go deeper into the possibilities it brings up. Cooper was alright, but there just wasn't much to the character, while De Niro just phoned in another performance. Here's my full review:

[link]
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4:04PM on 07/26/2011
Once again you are right! I waited to see this on DVD because of your review, and I sure am glad I did. What a mess. As you said, it had so much potential. The beginning drew me in as well, then lost it, then gained my attention a bit again, then lost it for good. Not much needs to be said because you review has it all - oh yea - "Fortress" my ass!!! The writers obviously ran out of NTZ before finishing the script.
Once again you are right! I waited to see this on DVD because of your review, and I sure am glad I did. What a mess. As you said, it had so much potential. The beginning drew me in as well, then lost it, then gained my attention a bit again, then lost it for good. Not much needs to be said because you review has it all - oh yea - "Fortress" my ass!!! The writers obviously ran out of NTZ before finishing the script.
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