I imagine that most people have a DVD collection similar to mine. It's a right mixture; literally next to each other on the shelf, you will find a critically acclaimed movie, like Million Dollar Baby, beside something fun and frivolous, like Minority Report. One thing is certain, though; whether it's an Oscar winner or a summer blockbuster, every DVD has earned its place on my shelf. Limitless is no different.
Hidden somewhere between stock characters that have been dusted off, given a new set of clothes and a change of name and sent on their merry way, and a camera technique that is all too reminiscent of 2002 David Fincher pic, Panic Room, you will find an entertaining and endearing heart and a premise that is intellectually intriguing.
Russian gangsters, the smarmy ex-brother-in-law drug dealer (who steps right out of the 80's complete with sharp suit and minimalist bachelor pad) and the girlfriend may be unconvincing on screen but Bradley Cooper, as the lead, Eddie Morra, is charasmatic and engaging (and easy on the eye!) while Robert De Niro puts in a highly satisfying performance as the enigmatic villain. And while the digitally tinkered-with zooming camera work may be sickeningly familiar, it also serves as a stomach-churning reminder of how unbalanced and unhinged Eddie Morra's life is becoming.
However, the most enchanting element of the movie, is the premise itself. The idea that taking a simple pill will allow you to unlock your full potential; that a pill can fix your life, is enchanting and I dare say there isn't a writer alive who wouldn't long for Eddie Morra's miracle drug to help them finish (or even start!) their magnum opus. But, no matter how bewitching the concept might be, there is a moral message to this movie too, and it is delivered gently with a pleasantly light touch; so light that it might be easy to miss.
Morra's use of the drug, NZT, is all too reasonable in the film. Eddie starts using on the basis that it's a one-time thing that can't possibly make his life any worse. It makes him feel good, makes him successful, so he understandably wants more. But then the side-effects start, but too late he finds that he's no longer taking it because he wants to, but because he needs to.
It's a fascinating take on drug use in everyday life, whether that's medicinal drugs (I recently went on holiday and left my prescription drugs at home. By the end of the week I was feeling very unwell!) or whether it's tobacco, alcohol, cannabis or something stronger. It teaches us that it's all too easy - a series of small steps - to start down a road that leads to dependency and it can sometimes get you mixed up in things you would normally not get mixed up in.
It's far from perfection, but Limitless is a movie that has a lot going for it. Ultimately, it manages to entertain and provoke me in equal measure. That's why it will find a home in my DVD collection and why I'll also be reading the book, The Dark Fields by Alan Glyn, on which the film is based.
Limitless is released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 1st August.
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