Out-of-work writer Eddie Morra is given a pill of MDT, a newly produced pharmaceutical drug, by his ex brother-in- law Vernon, and upon taking it finds he is super intelligent and everything he’s read, seen or heard is immediately available to him. He finds Vernon mysteriously murdered, but never mind, he also finds a huge stash of MDT pills and uses them to become a successful stock brocker. He draws the attention of business mogul Carl Van Loon, who sees this enhanced version of Eddie as the tool to make billions, but brutal side effects from the drug jeopardize his meteoric ascent and he is followed by a loan shark who he didn’t pay back……….
What if we are only using a small percentage of our brain and we are not using it to its full potential? Those are the fascinating questions posed by Limitless, which is actually a little reminiscent of Phenomenon and even Charly. Also fascinating is the idea of a drug which unlocks the parts of the brain which are not being used or used fully, and Limitless, for most of its running time, is an interesting variant on a rags to riches story. The film moves at a very fast pace and is rarely dull, the moments when Eddie comes up on MDT are cleverly but subtly indicated by everything getting a little brighter, and there is a great sequence about half way through where he seems to speed through 36 hours and we witness a montage of random events and some terrific point of view shots of Eddie’s mind speeding through the city. However, the film falters as it tries to add a bit too much to the proceedings, such as a very suspenseful but out of place chase in Central Park, and winds up with typical action stuff and a pat happy ending. I would have preferred things to have got more surreal and trippy, and maybe to have shown Eddie really ‘losing’ it to the drug, but that’s just me. With its pounding techno score from Paul Leonard and Nico Muhly, Limitless at times looks, feels and sounds like a Danny Boyle film, but seems to lack the outstanding performances his films usually have –leading man Bradley Cooper is just adequate and no more as Eddie, but look out for a very touching extended cameo by Anna Friel. This is an enjoyable night out at the picture no doubt and will certainly hold your attention, but just plays it a bit too obvious and safe considering its premise.