on May 28, 2011
I was taken in by the opening credits as an outline of a brain turns into a city. I am a big sucker for that microcosm/ macrocosm stuff.
Edward has writer's block. He has a book contract for some reason, yet hasn't written a word. His girlfriend, who was his meal ticket leaves him. Bummed out he decides to go live on a bunk bed at Dad's place in New Jersey, but then bumps into his ex-brother-in-law, who is a drug dealer. He offers Edward a pill that increases a person's use of their brain. They can recall everything they have seen or read and can correlate it to increase intelligence. The smarter a person is to begin with, the more data they have to work with. Edward is a smart guy to begin with, so he is able to start his book. The downside is that the pill wears off. Not only does one lose the abilities, but they get a little ADD, and throw up like a heroin addict. Too much of the pill causes a Mr. Hyde type of character including blackouts. Edward's supplier is murdered and Edward finds his stash of pills and a wad of cash.
Edward uses his ability to make money on Wall Street. He catches the attention of big time corporations as well as the Russian mafia. He quickly finds out people who take the smart pill eventually die from either taking too much or running out. Edward must try to balance his life.
I loved the concept. I loved how they did the drug effect with simple but effective camera tricks. Anyone who has come down off of cocaine, LSD, or heroin knows how Edward feels and he portrays a man coming off drugs very well.
I even liked the ending, although the last few minutes should have been stretched out. No nudity.
A blocked writer (played by Bradley Cooper) with average intelligence and a very low drive for success comes into possession of an unreleased drug that makes him a super genius. The movie's premise is that we only use a very small percentage of our brains, and the drug gets the body to use 100% of the brain.
In the movie, the writer only has a limited supply of the drug with no way to get more. The plot thickens since the drug has side effects and others are after his supply.
If I could give half stars, I'd give this movie a 4 1/2. It was very good, and definitely worth seeing, but there have been some movies more deserving of the full 5 stars. Still, this movie has a lot going for it. Here what's good:
1. The premise of this movie is unique. It's a great fantasy. Who wouldn't want that level of smarts. He's able to protect himself, make a killing on Wall Street and even impress women by ordering dinner speaking Italian. Just pop a pill and you're able to pretty much conquer the world. Great concept.
2. I like movies with smart heroes. This movie has that - well sometimes. The trouble with our hero is that without the drug he's an average guy who's sincere but not all that interesting, smart or even very likable. And when he's on the drug he's almost all about making money and having fun.
In the characters favor, he does sincerely love a woman, and he honestly wants to be the better man she needs and deserves. Or at least to appear that way.
Regardless of his flaws, the movie pulls you in, and you'll care about Bradley's character. This is usually essential for a movie to be good, and this movie succeeds in that. Cooper does an excellent job portraying the character in all his states.
3. This is not a special effects movie, but the cinematography and special effects were really well done. They were a major part of moving the story along, helping you understand what was happening to Bradley Cooper's character, and helping you get inside his head.
4. There was some suspense, action and danger that made the story exciting. The fact that the drug was going to run out and had dangerous side effects worked similar to a ticking bomb, always in the back of your mind. The movie kept to a good pace. It was almost always interesting and sometimes exciting. There were interesting plot twists. You don't always know what's coming next.
Here's what's not quite as good:
1. I wanted to like the lead character even more. I didn't quite identify with him personally. However others might.
2. I would have liked the love story to have been more developed. I think it would resulted in pulling the audience into the story in a more intense way.
3. Of course De Niro is an amazing actor, however his role was kind of small and not particularly high impact. I don't think the role was a great fit for him.
Regardless, I'd definitely recommend this movie. It's exciting and interesting, and I'd watch it again. Anyone who likes sci-fi, thrillers and suspense will want to check this movie out.
on March 30, 2011
Mostly, films go in one side of my head and right out the other. If I can remember a film I saw Friday, on Monday, that's unusual.
It's been a couple weeks since I saw this. It's still there in my memory.
I think there are several reasons, not necessarily in order of importance:
1) The opening credits are worth the price of admission on their own. Whatever you were thinking when you sat down in the theater, you're transported immediately to somewhere else... wherever that will turn out to be. Amazing and outstanding!
2) The overall plot is Hitchcock-esque. You don't know what's going to happen, and cliches are out the window. As the story builds, the suspense is palpable.
3) The visuals... This isn't on the scale of an AVATAR, but parts of it approach The Matrix. This movie is really a trip-and-a-half.
4) The performances, and dramatic direction, are excellent, as are many other production factors, including music, that don't smack you in the face but which are indispensible to the experience.
5) The ending is entirely non-cliche and unpredictable. Hitchcock would be proud to have directed it.
So, although it isn't populated with super-star actors and actresses (yet), this is a blockbuster, destined for cult fame and longevity.
The more I think about it, the more I like it.
on July 25, 2011
My wife and I saw this in the theater when it first opened. We saw the trailer on TV and knew we would not be able to wait until it came on satellite. We were not disappointed. One thing that makes this movie really great is that it is easy to buy into the premise right away. A pill that lets you access 100% of your brain. That is where 99% of the fiction starts and stops - most everything else in the movie is very believable. The pill doesn't make you fly, or levitate things, or read minds, it just lets you use 100% of your brain. Imagine how smart you would be if you simply never forgot anything - even the stuff you didn't know you knew at all! This movie lets you peek into that world. It also shows how stupid you can be when you are so smart - the trouble the main character gets into could very easily be avoided (but then the movie would not be much to watch!).
The only disappointment was the "Extended Cut" - I didn't see much besides about 10 seconds of footage that added nothing to the movie. The trailer shows things that are never said in the movie - why not include those scenes in the extneded cut or at least on a deleted scenes reel. The alternate ending is not much of an alternate. Excellent movie, disappointing extras on the DVD.
The concept is intriguing: take a pill that massively increases brainpower to the extent that you far surpass nearly everyone else, and then seen how your life changes because of that. The benefits are impressive: rapidly finishing challenging projects, learning new languages with ease, making big money by discerning patterns no one else can, becoming irresistible to attractive women, and generally moving up in the world. But of course there's also no free lunch, since other people (including bad guys) will take notice and want a piece of the action, plus the pill itself turns out to be addictive and has serious side effects, including potential death.
While I enjoyed the exploration of this concept, and the acting was also pretty good (De Niro stood out), my one complaint is that the plot construction seemed somewhat haphazard in an amateurish way, which really took away from the believability of the movie, so I found it hard to stay fully engaged. For this reason, I have to deduct one star, but I can still recommend the movie to people who have fantasized about what it would be like to be super smart.
on January 7, 2016
Bradley Cooper plays a down-and-out writer who discovers a miracle drug that unlocks his brain’s full potential. However, once he gets on the drug and improves his life 100 fold, he discovers there are side effects to the drug if you stop taking it. Soon, he finds himself in a problem he might not be able to think his way out of, with several people hunting him for different reasons.
Cooper shines in this role, and I’m not just talking about his striking blue eyes. He’s a good looking guy, so that works for the ladies, but there’s also a spark behind his pretty face that makes the average viewer not just relate to him but also root for him.
The spring of 2011 was a time of fantastic speculative fiction in the form of original movies, and “Limitless” was part of that run,. Not quite science fiction, “Limitless” is presented as a neat “what if” story in the context of everyday living. It starts with the opening continuous shot along New York’s streets, and it continues with the effective change in lighting, saturation and color once any character takes the drug. This makes “Limitless” not just a cool film to watch, but a cool film to see.
on July 26, 2011
Going into Limitless I did not know what to expect. I saw the trailer and kind of brushed it off as I thought to myself it was probably just another average thriller, but this ended up being a nice pleasant surprise. Bradley Cooper has the star roll and does an excellent job. In fact, this might be his best acting gig yet. His performance makes the movie very enjoyable and fun. Now onto what the film is about... its about a man named Eddie (Bradley Cooper) who is a depressed man that is a writer and struggles to make a living. His life changes when he comes across his ex brother in-law from about 10 years ago when he slips Eddie a pill named NZT that may or may not change his life forever. The purpose of this pill enhances the brains ability and capacity to 100%. Eddie of course takes the pill and he soon finds out that it elevates his ability to think and do things which opens up great possibilities for him.The Movie takes some twist and turns that at points I do not think it could even keep up with them, however this is truly worth watching if not owning then renting.
This is a movie that MUST be seen on Blu-ray. We have 2 different looks to the film. One look as a cold, dull, dark and blue look to it while the other has a brighter look with somewhat elevated contrast. The scenes that Eddie is off the pill have the darker tone to it and the scenes when he is on the pill has the brighter look. While the brighter scenes do pop and look excellent, that does not mean that the scenes that are darker look bad. Strong detail and black levels are both exceptionally good in both parts. Moreover, the reason I mentioned that this film must be seen on Blu-ray is because of everything I just mentioned. The mood of the film depends on what exactly Eddie's mood is and we sort of follow him through a maze throughout the entirety of the film so to speak. Simply put, the experience here is quite awesome.
The DTS-HD track is exceptional. Dialogue for the most part is handled very well, except for a few scenes where I felt it was a tad softer. The score of the film is also very good. Music and other sounds throughout the film can be heard clearly. The sound stage does a nice job at whatever is thrown at it. I appreciated the parts that were "faster" so to speak with music and other sounds flying around the room.
on July 20, 2014
Acting was well done. Sort of a waste of Robert DeNiro though.
Essentially, this writer with what appears to be issues with self-esteem, lack of will power, difficulty concentrating, cleanliness; is going downhill rapidly. He owes money to everyone. He can't get a chapter written much less the book. His girlfriend tells him she is no longer to be his paycheck, house-cleaner, cook... and leaves.
He is lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut, when he runs into his ex-brother-in-law, a former drug dealer, who says he has cleaned up his act and now sells pharmaceuticals for a company, and is doing very well. He, sees what a mess our hero is in and offers him ONE pill of a new drug, which he says will make him feel and think better than he has ever done in his life. This pill normally costs $800 a pop, and has not yet been released, though FDA approved. (Don't know why the hero thought FDA approval made it safe....) The ex-brother-in-law gets a call and has to run off, right as our hero is saying he doesn't want the pill, which is left behind with him anyway.
Well on the way home, hero...who is depressed, thinks what the hey and takes the miracle drug. The guy goes into overdrive, cleaning up his apartment and writing that first chapter that will get him his advance from his literary agent. He goes to the agent, and is still hyper and tells her, with her EXTREMELY doubtful...because she has been dealing with this jerk for a while, that after she has read a few paragraphs IF she doesn't want the piece, he will bring back her advance; to call him later that night.
He goes home and has three messages. The first is from the agent, she says she has read a few pages and she likes them, but does not yet know if he is going to be able to sustain his style through the whole piece. The next message from her also...she has read a few more pages, and she is excited and thinks he has a good concept and potentially valuable piece. The final message is from his heavy breathing, excited agent who is kissing up to him big time...and he knows he has her, the contract and the opportunity to make some good money to live on. He goes looking for his brother-in-law to get more pills.
He goes to the apartment where his brother-in-law lives...door is open...he goes in...apartment torn up...he sees his brother in law sitting on the sofa, back to him...he goes to see him and the guy's brains are blown out...and from there this fantasy becomes a thriller with a twist at the end.
The interest, the action, the compression of the film stays good right up till the end...AND a viable end IS obtained, BUT I gave it 4 stars because it needed a little more development at the end to have made the denouement work better. Still a very enjoyable thriller.
In the 1970's "Limitless" would have been a B-movie directed by David Cronenberg (before the mainstream discovered him) but with science fiction themed thrillers being big "Limitless" gets the deluxe "A" treatment in ALL aspects from visuals, acting technique and the script. "Limitless" doesn't lean heavily on a "message" but it's there along with the consequences for the characters in the film for their action.
Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist (Widescreen Edition)) does a terrific job of envisioning Eddie's world both with without the enhancement of the drug NZT-48 creating a thoughtful thriller that avoids being preachy.
"Limitless" looks extremely good in Blu-ray with lighting, textures and colors for Eddie's different stages of mind nicely reproduced--it's a strong representation of what it looked like in theaters. Audio sounds extremely good as well with a nice immersive 5.1 lossless mix.
The Blu-ray includes an unrated version of the film that literally includes just a couple of extended scenes of graphic violence (and an injection). The film isn't hurt by the slightly longer scenes (clearly cut to gain the PG-13 rating). We also get some very nice extras as well including an
audio commentary with Director Neil Burger--Burger tends to describe what we're already SEEING (or about to see)rather than discuss his approach to the material and he clearly could have benefited from a moderator or cast member discussing the making of the film; "A Man Without Limits" focuses on bringing the character of Eddie to life and making him a convincing, sympathetic main character; "Taking It To the Limit" which gives us a bit of surprising info--the screenwriter OPTIONED the story herself--Leslie Dixon writes about what she saw in the original story that appealed to her and how she visualized telling the story. We also get (in under 15 minutes) a brief discussion of location shooting, stunts and other related information. The alternate ending isn't quite as strong as the one we see in the film (it's a variation on it just not as tight). We also get the theatrical trailer.
"Limitless" is a well made entertaining popcorn thriller that has more substance than the average summer movie and that's to director Neil Burger's and writer Leslie Dixon's credit (as well as the actors). Burger who also wrote and directed the stylish "The Illusionist" does a great job with the material here.
Synopsis and spoilers below:
When slacker writer Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) runs into his ex-brother-in-law Vern (Johnny Whitworth)Vern opens a whole new world with the "experimental" drug NZT-48 that, incredibly, gives Eddie more insight, awareness of his surrounding, ambition, creativity and brilliance than he could ever imagine having. He can take on the stock market, deliver that brilliant first novel that he had his doubts about and make a fortune. The only problem is that others want the drug as well and will kill to get it as it isn't exactly legal nor is it in clinical trials for a variety of reaons as Eddie discovers. He also attracts the attention of Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro)a wealthy businessman who could be a threat to Eddie as well.
on July 14, 2011
Limitless (thriller, mystery, sci-fi)
Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish
20th Century Fox | 2011 | 105 min | Rated PG-13 | Released Jul 19, 2011
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish
Single Blu-ray Disc
The Film 4/5
Eddie Morra (Cooper) is a loser. He looks like he sleeps on the streets and his girlfriend is his main source of income while he struggles to write a novel. He lives in a seedy apartment and is more likely to be eating pizza and drinking alcohol than working on his book. His girlfriend (Cornish) finally decides it's time to leave, but Eddie's life is about to change for the better.
In a chance meeting with Vernon, the brother of his ex-wife, Eddie is offered a pill. He's suspicious because Vernon was dealing drugs the last time the two met. After thinking about it, Eddie decides that life can't get much worse and takes the pill. Within 30 seconds, he starts to feel different. The color palette changes from dull and muted to bright and clear and represents the change in Eddie.
We are told that we use a fraction of our brain on a daily basis. The pill is supposed to enable us to use one hundred percent of our brain. Eddie finds that he can think clearly and work out solutions to difficult problems. He writes a book in four days without pausing to think how the plot should progress and his editor loves the result. We see him learn how to play piano and become fluent in the Italian language.
Eddie feels like he suddenly knows everything.
It's interesting how a positive mental attitude can change your life. Instead of living like a slob, he cleans his apartment. Then he focuses on ways to use his intelligence to make enough money to permanently change his life. His new confident attitude attracts the girlfriend who dumped him. Eddie's life is starting to look pretty good.
After making the news with a series of shrewd investments, Eddie attracts the attention of Carl Van Loon (De Niro). Van Loon is an ambitious businessman who craves money and power. He has no time to waste on losers, but gives Eddie a chance to impress. He reminds me of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
Eddie's main problem is securing a regular supply of pills. He also has to adapt to their effects and discover a way to moderate his reaction. Like any drug, there are side effects to deal with. I won't reveal anything else, but the plot is more complicated than I have made it sound.
The movie is advertised as an action thriller and Rolling Stone describes it as a "Full-tilt adrenalin rush." Although there some action scenes, I wouldn't describe it as an adrenalin rush. There are chase scenes, but the focus is on Eddie's fortunes and there's always an element of mystery. I found it enjoyable because I wanted to see what would happen next, but I rarely found myself sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation.
The acting is good across the board. Cooper pulls off his role well. He's serious when he has to be and whimsical in the lighter scenes. De Niro doesn't get a great deal of screen time, but his scenes are memorable. Cornish is effective as Eddie's girlfriend.
I found Limitless to be an enjoyable way to spend 105 minutes. There are two versions included on the Blu-ray; the theatrical and the unrated extended version. There is only a few seconds difference in running time between the two.
Video Quality 4.5/5
Limitless looks very good on Blu-ray. Detail is strong throughout, although we see more during scenes where Eddie is feeling the effects of the drug. Contrast and brightness are boosted during such scenes. Although the other scenes appear drab by comparison, there's good detail and no problem with the transfer. Most viewers will be pleased with the look of the movie.
Audio Quality 4.5/5
The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is more than adequate. The action scenes are limited, but the track delivers when needed. Dialogue is crisp and clear and I didn't detect any problems with the sound. The commentary track uses English: Dolby Digital 2.0.
Special Features 2.5/5
The additional features all appear in full HD.
Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger.
A Man without Limits (4:29)
Taking it to the Limit: the Making of Limitless (11:38) - It would have been nice to see a more extensive feature.
Alternate Ending (5:14) - I prefer the original ending, but it's nice to see another possibility.
Theatrical Trailer (2:25)
Limitless has a few plot holes, but it works as a piece of entertainment. Cooper does a great job as Eddie and you'll want to see him succeed. It's hard to pin down the genre as it includes mystery, drama, action, sci-fi and comedy, but it's more of a thriller than anything. I didn't see the film in the theater, but I'm glad it found its way into my Blu-ray collection. It won't change your life, but few people will regret seeing it.
Overall score 4/5