Direction: Neil Burger
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish
Rating: ** 1/2
A few minutes into this slick but convoluted thriller the protagonist, a wannabe novelist inflicted with writer’s block, is unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend. She (Cornish) reckons the future is bleak for the natural born loser (Cooper).
What she doesn’t reckon, however, is the sleight of script that allows him to stumble upon a wonder drug which ramps up the brain’s functional capacity.
Infused with super-intelligence, the thirtysomething slacker-turned-savant is now propelled into a world of swish society and high finance. In a matter of days, he finishes his manuscript, masters several foreign languages and even learns to play the piano. Of course, he also reunites with his girlfriend.
But wait. The path of fame and fortune has an exorbitant price. His sudden success draws the attention of a host of unsavoury characters including a Russian loan shark. Worse, he discovers that the descent into the abyss of substance addiction leads to permanent brain damage.
Uneven at best, the plot is cluttered with action skirmishes, chases and some scenes of graphic violence. Director Burger (The Illusionist) frequently resorts to visual gimmicks like the dizzying zooms through Manhattan locations and super-saturated colour schemes. He also grapples, rather heavy-handedly, with the ‘just-say-no-to-drugs’ moral. Instead of ratcheting up to a rousing resolution, the climax feels somewhat strained.
On a more positive note, Bradley Cooper has a likeable screen presence. Robert DeNiro displays his patented vitality in the role of a go-getter businessman. On the other hand, both Abbie Cornish and Anna Friel as the drug-ravaged ex-wife are ineffectual.
In effect, Limitless just about makes it to the see-grade.