Release Date
March 18, 2011
Director
Neil Burger
Screenplay
Leslie Dixon
Based On The Novel By
Alan Glynn
Distributed By
Relativity
Budget
$27 million
Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thriller
Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language
105 minutes

Limitless

A pill that allows for limitless possibilities. What could possibly go wrong, right? “Limitless” is not only as close to an awakening in modern cinema as you can get these days, but a nice conversation piece on major issues facing our current state of existence.

We are familiar with the over medication of our society. If a child cannot sit still, it must mean he needs drugs. Ritalin is the new babysitter. If worrying keeps us up at night, Prozac will straighten that right out. We are no longer the pioneers that our ancestors were, but instead, we are pharmaceutical pioneers, engineering our way into one big lump of existence.

“Limitless” brings to point the fact that people want to be good at everything yet not have to work for it. The fast food nation becomes the fast fix nation. Robert De Niro plays the self-made man, Carl Van Loon, a business connoisseur and market mogul. We then have Bradley Cooper playing Eddie Morra, our protagonist, the overnight up-and-comer, medicated and taking life (and drugs) one day at a time. We are, thus, handed a generation gap.

Carl Van Loon eventually enlists the help of Eddie Morra, after Eddie becomes a major stocker player basically overnight. De Niro is the epitome of self-made money, but you have to remember, seeking out people like Eddie is exactly what brought him to his success. De Niro may have worked from the bottom up, faced his share of hardships, but he justifies his success on the risks it took to get there. But when faced with someone like Eddie, who will bring him more money, he is abrupt in buying him off to be on his team.

Cooper’s character is basically the same deal, but different methods and different generation. A question delving further passed the script that I would like to know is what generation of people is making the pill? If it is the younger generation, then this is a true testament to them making a means to an end: creating a pill to make themselves more successful. Eddie uses the pills to further and better himself. (Imagine the plummeting homeless rate were this pill openly available!)

Now, the biggest question that pops in my head is: what kind of world would it be when these drugs actually exist? Not sure what I am getting at? Look at Major League Baseball and the steroids epidemic (if I may call it that) of our recent generation. Mark McGuire and, recently, Barry Bonds, as well as a number of other heavy hitters being prosecuted for indulging in steroids to improve their baseball swing.

The game of baseball was inhibited because games are no fun when there is cheating. So you either make the drugs illegal in the game or you allow everyone to have them. That means cracking down (prohibition never seems to work) or watching the over-masculine men swing their big bats while their genitals shrivel to prunes.

More or less what I am getting at is whether life is as enjoyable if everyone is good at everything. When there is no such word as special, how will we differentiate between the people that deserve a reward and people who are cheating to get it? Pretty soon it becomes less of who earned their spot and more of who took the most pills to get there.

Food for thought: Creating the cure for cancer will be a truly historic achievement that will echo on throughout the ages. But what happens then to the overpopulation of the planet when the world’s biggest population regulator is put down? We all want to believe that creating pills and cures will help prolong our existence and, perhaps, even make it more enjoyable. But when the spices of life are snuffed out and the unavoidable destruction that is life catches up with us, will any of those pills be worth a damn?

Placing these ethical questions neatly and slickly in a Neil Burger film is quite ingenious. The plot follows the dwindling, unsuccessful life of Eddie Morra, a failed writer and failing lover. That is, until he comes across a magical cure to the average male (or female as not to be sexist), a pill that allows you to access 100% of your brain. What follows is pure exhilaration.

Of course those who have had the pill want more, causing many rifts for our lead character, Eddie, to attend to on his way to becoming a multi-millionaire in a matter of months. The pill, however, is a double-edged sword. It ends up killing those who get off the pill (minus Eddie’s ex-wife and sister to the original drug dealer) and causes memory loss and unaccounted for blackouts during excessive use. Nothing gold can stay, right?

Do not get me wrong, the film stumbles on reproducing many different predecessors; “21” and “Crank” are the first two to come to mind, but honestly, the filmmakers are able to revitalize these favorites and make it their own. The plot is able to cover all its bases and does not go for the cheap, expectable draw, but leads you on a trail of originality; boggling the mind in the countless, self improvement scenes one second and then leading you on a heart-pounding chase the next.

Bradley Cooper is an actor to be reckoned with. He has proven himself indispensable in almost every genre of film and this just continues his rise. To be face to face with a legendary actor like Robert De Niro and be able to command the eyes of the audience is a true feat. Many of the scenes where the two share the screen appear to resemble a torch passing ceremony.

The women of the film are simply thrown in as a reference point to the changes that occur in the lead (Cooper). Abbie Cornish is almost unrecognizable, as the current love interest, as is Anna Friel, who plays the ex-wife, who has been exposed to the withdrawals of the drug. The other supporting males are either addicted to the drug or looking for the drug for personal gain, leaving them very one dimensional.

Perhaps “Limitless” is a glimpse into our not so distant future, but no matter what, the film truly causes viewers to look deeper than the lines of the script or the content of the film. It forces you to take a good, hard look at the world around you and consider what is best for humanity as a whole. With a splash of a love story and the makings of a fantastic drug thriller, “Limitless” truly takes on a life of its own.

 

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