(director: Neil Burger; screenwriters: Leslie Dixon/based on the novel “The Dark Fields,” by Alan Glynn; cinematographer: Jo Willems; editor: Naomi Geraghty; music: Paul Leonard-Morgan; cast: Bradley Cooper (Eddie Morra), Abbie Cornish (Lindy), Robert De Niro (Van Loon), Anna Friel (Melissa), Johnny Whitworth (Vernon), Andrew Howard (Gennady), Ned Eisenberg (Morris Brandt); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Leslie Dixon/Scott Kroopf/Ryan Kavanaugh; Relativity Media; 2011)
“A flashy techno-thriller.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Limitless is a flashy techno-thriller based on Alan Glynn’s 2001 novel ‘The Dark Fields,’ and is scripted by Leslie Dixon (“Pay it Forward”/”Mrs. Doubtfire”). Neil Burger (“The Illusionists”/”The Lucky Ones/”Interview With The Assassin”)avoids moralizing, keeps things fast paced and seems to be telling usthat corporate tycoons are evil and experimenting with unknown drugs might have tremendous benefits along with dangerous side effects. The slick thriller warns us that we use only a small portion of our brain and tells us that the benefits of taking a powerful brain drug to get smarter, even if untested, maybe outweighs that it causes paranoia, induces urges to kill and poses fatal health risks.

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling 35-year-old NYC writer with a great smile, who has an unkempt appearance, has trouble making the rent for his fleabag walkup Chinatown apartment, a case of writer’s block and has settled into being a deadbeat. The one bright spot in his life, live-in pretty blonde girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) gets a promotion to editor and breaks off the relationship by returning the keys. So when the down-and-out Eddie accidentally meets on the street his drug dealing brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), after being divorced for a long time from his wife Melissa (Anna Friel) and not seeing Vernon for 9 years, he doesn’t flinch much when Eddie tells him he now works for a pharmaceutical company that has developed an experimental designer drug called NZT, not yet on the market, thatallows the brain to function at full capacity. Taking the wonder drug brings on amazing results that allows Eddie to write his masterpiece science-fiction novel in four days and then get it published. When returning to Vernon’s apartment to get more drugs, complications arise when he finds Vernon has been executed with a bullet to the head. From now on Eddie will have to use his wits to keep supplied. In the process of being a regular pill popper of NZT, the superficial Eddie now meets some rich stock brokers, travels to great resorts around the world, has great sex with some hotties he meets through his new hotshot pals, and masters the stock market to make a quick million dollars or so. Eddie also must deal with a sadistic Russian loan shark (Andrew Howard), who advanced him a large sum of money to play the market. But his new found wealth brings him back together with Lindy and arouses the interest of energy tycoon Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who uses Eddie’s knowledge to pull off big stock market deals.

Eddie goes on a wild ride, where his gains come the easy way through his drug use and are not earned the hard and more meritorious way through experience. It closes with a despondent Eddie changing his mind about jumping off the roof and instead finding a way to wean himself off the pill, while still milking its positives This new power gained from the magic pill leads Eddie to not only order in a restaurant food in a foreign language, but to run for the senate. How Eddie gets from a bum to such a respected position makes for an energetic and enjoyable tale, that only crashes because it’s so preposterous, the ending is a bummer and Eddie’s such a dick.