This Isn’t the Matrix.

I’ll admit, I probably would never have seen Neil Burger’s Limitless if it wasn’t for a buddy of mine who, after some passionate coercive methods, finally convinced me to hit the “rent” button on iTunes. Can’t we all agree that the trailer for this film was pretty forgettable? A depressed, disheveled New York writer comes across a pill allowing him to access “the other 80%” of his brain and the next thing he knows he’s figured out a winning formula for Wall Street and he’s vacationing in Ibiza? Cue the Kanye West soundtrack…

I guess I was turned off initially by the glossy Hollywood coma that this film so effortlessly throws us into. Often I have trouble being taken with such a far-fetched story complimented by expensive visual effects and attractive A-list celebs. Where’s the acting? Where’s the simplicity? What’s the point?

Well, I was wrong. This film exceeded my expectations ten-fold and had me hooked from the get go. Why? Because, this isn’t a black and white transformation. Eddie Morra (Cooper), takes a sample of an experimental drug from his ex-brother-in-law / high-class pusher and things begin to change. The only problem: it’s a drug. Its effects are temporary and can only be re-lived by taking more. Watching Eddie struggle with this back and forth is what makes this film work. Before we know it, the film has achieved a momentum that even we have trouble keeping up with. At times, I literally felt like it was moving too fast, much like Eddie must have felt on the drug, when he begins to up the dosage and can no longer account for specific intervals of his daily life.

Suddenly we’re lost with Eddie in a quasi-Phlip K. Dickian future. Should we be surprised to discover that others at the top of the totem-pole are also abusing the drug? Nope. But this creates a serious problem for Eddie, especially when he learns of how fatal the effects of the drug can be once your supply runs out. Now the head trip becomes faster, more desperate, and more surreal. Soon his secret is out, and others want in.

Sure, there’s questionable plot issues and technical dilemmas. But why even bother picking apart the story for impracticalities? The way this film moves is fascinating. Intertwined within its highs and lows are moments in which Bradley Cooper delivers a solid performance. Props to Abbie Cornish and the all-mighty Robert De Niro, as well.

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