Limitless spoiler free review

Friday, March 11, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Limitless ReviewIdon’t know if we are being really spoilt by Hollywood right now, if I’m having some sort of mid-life crisis or my abstinence from watching trailers and other film related marketing is paying off in spades but I have seen a rash of really good films lately. I just got back from seeing Limitless and still buzzing from it. I’m tired but too excited to sleep right now.

I had scanned the trailer for Limitless - and too be honest despite the very reliable Bradley Cooper & slightly less so, but still a legend Robert De Niro (c’mon Fockers? Machete? Really?) - thought the very slick, overly voiced trailer pointed towards another soulless Hollywood film that will invariably disappoint. But Limitless doesn’t, it goes the other way.

Video: Limitless Trailer

Sitting there in my chair eyes wide open, possibly drooling a little Limitless blindsided me. It felt like watching Fight Club if it was written by Phillip K. Dick. I should qualify that by saying it does have similarities in style but not the grittiness of Fight Club - that has been replaced by polish. It also has engaging performances as well as a pace of story that will keep you wondering which direction it might go in every step of the way.

The visuals - this is a very stylised film and Director Neil Burger has tried to support the tale with a unique look & feel, not easy in this post modern weary world in which we live.

Now I could be buzzing because Bradley Cooper popped in to introduce the film himself. Yes you read that right Bradley Motherflipping Cooper, strides into our London cinema, cool as a cucumber and as charismatic as you would think he is - to thank us for coming to see his film. How could I not like the film after that? Pics here!

Video: The Establishing Shot - Bradley Cooper introduces Limitless

The similarities between Fight Club don’t end with the above some of the visuals are clearly influenced by David Fincher’s Fight Club but used in their own context. The story is also told in voiceover and it works well with Bradley Cooper emoting his personality through his voice alone. Limitless also starts in a very similar way to Fight Club. The Establishing Shot is that of Bradley Cooper’s Eddie Morra standing on the edge of his balcony high above New York City contemplating jumping, behind him someone or something is smashing his apartment door down and coming for him.

Via an extended flashback we are told the tale of how Eddie Morra got into this predicament - Eddie Morra starts off as an unmotivated down on his luck Sci-Fi writer. Well he hasn’t actually written anything but he does have a book contract. Anyone who has ever had to write something that they don’t feel inspired will immediately relate to Eddie and his struggle to literate. It’s not that he doesn’t want to write his great novel - the words just aren’t flowing. If you have seen the trailer you know what happens next. By a run of luck or misfortune Eddie winds up on NZT a drug that enhances your intellect and empowers you to use 100+% of your brains capacity.

Limitless reviewRecently NZT enhanced Bradley Cooper dashes out a Sci-Fi masterpiece

He then becomes the toast of the town as his increased brain capacity evolves him. It’s fun watching Bradley Cooper as he becomes smarter each step of the way and his increased appetites take him on a reckless voyage of self discovery.

As he progresses he becomes entwined in the business world enter Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon – a captain of industry intrigued by the boy wonder. Carl Van Loon, Eddie Morra you have to love those names.

Limitless reviewBradley Cooper & Robert De Niro discuss world domination

De Niro is a pleasure to watch, exuding authority without menace or overplaying it and has gone some of the way of erasing the painful memories of Fockers & Machete.

Naturally with such an incredible chemically induced high there is an inevitable crashing low to follow. As Eddie discovers that there are many seen and unseen dangers that come with his addiction to NZT. Which all comes full circle to Eddie standing high above the city and his legs slowly giving way.

As far as the story goes - Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel and relative newcomer Andrew Howard as a Russiaon Street hood (last seen in a stand out performance as the menacing Sherriff in the I Spit on your Grave remake) are all very engaging and too be honest I couldn’t tell if what I was watching was completely predictable crap because between Bradley Cooper being so entertaining and the great visuals accompanied by brilliant sound design I was all in for the ride.

Limitless reviewBradley Cooper gets some bodyguards not from The Matrix

Limitless is all about what films should be an entertaining rollercoaster ride and you don't slip off the rails once as Neil Burger keeps a tight hold on the steering wheel the whole way through.

Just a note on the sound design without giving too much away - there is a scene where Eddie gets into a fight and not only is it an awesome experience watching him draw on untapped skills but the music drops and we are only left with the visuals and the sound of breathing and physical movement. In a film with many outstanding scenes that particular moment defined the care and attention put into making the film engaging and lifting it from a good film to a brilliant film.

I absolutely loved Bradley Cooper’s little guy ascending, knowing the right thing to say at the right time and just generally being cool - hit me exactly where it was supposed to and that little bit of wish fulfillment was being lived out right there on the screen in a clever, engaging way. A lot of the films magic comes from the editing never allowing Bradley Cooper to appear overly smug and keeps him on the right side of entertaining.

Limitless reviewThe obligatory action film running scene. It has the appropriate context in Limitless though

For me Limitless was possibly the closest we will ever be to a modern Phillip K Dick cinematic experience without Philip K Dick actually being involved. Even the title of the original novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn sounds very Philip K Dick. Limitless gets my vote as an absolutley great awesome film and will be heading into my list of top 10 films of 2011.
Limitless reviewLimitless
Director: Neil Burger
Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel and Abbie Cornish

Limitless is out in the UK on Wednesday 23 March, 2011

Limitless review (spoiler free if you have seen the trailer)