PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Edward “Eddie” Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a playwriter who lives in New York City. He has recently been dumped by his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) in addition to failing to meet the deadline to turn in his new book, which he hasn’t started yet. One day, Eddie comes across Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth), the brother of his ex-wife, Melissa Gant (Anna Friel). Vernon is a drug dealer, and he offers Eddie a sample of a new (fictional) nootropic drug, NZT-48, claiming it allows humans to access 100% of the brain’s power, as opposed to the “normal” 20%. Eddie accepts, and, much to his surprise, the drug does indeed work, putting him into a manic state, and enabling him to write the first 90 pages to his book, exciting his publisher.
Eddie asks for more of the drug, but when Vernon asks him to go pick up his dry cleaning, he returns to find Vernon murdered and his apartment ransacked. Eddie calls the police and deduces that Vernon was probably killed by someone who wanted his stash of NZT. He finds the drugs, his address book, and a wad of cash just before the police arrive. Regularly taking NZT, and using Vernon’s cash, he turns his life around. After finishing his book he focuses on trading stocks, initially financed with a $100,000 loan from a Russian mafia thug, Gennady (Andrew Howard). Eddie gets back together with Lindy. He starts increasing his dose of NZT while he turns his loan into more than $2million in just a few days. His fame hits the news, but he notices he is followed by a man in a tan coat (Tomas Arana).
His successful trading gets him a meeting with powerful businessman, Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). Van Loon gives him an assignment to research overnight, but the higher dose of NZT is causing side effects including lost time, frenetic activity, and hallucinations. Eddie goes on a drinking and partying binge, and ends up in a hotel room with a striking blond (Caroline Winberg). He is followed there by the man in the tan coat.
Eddie wakes up just prior to his meeting with Van Loon, and realizes he has no more NZT at his house. He hasn’t looked at the assignment, but goes to the meeting anyway. Van Loon wants to force a merger with a competitor, Hank Atwood (Richard Bekins), and can’t figure out how the head of the merger target could come from out of nowhere to be a viable partner in just 2 years. Just as Eddie begins to realize that Atwood may be on NZT too, a news flash appears on a TV screen showing that the woman Eddie was out with the evening before was murdered.
Eddie was feeling sick after his binge, and is even sicker now. His ex-wife calls him and tells him she suspects he is on NZT. He pleads for a face-to-face meeting, but Melissa is reluctant. He wants to learn more about the side effects of the drug, so he starts calling the names in Vernon’s address book. He discovers that everyone listed is either dead, or in the hospital sick. While calling one of the names, he hears a phone ring, and a person sitting close by answering. It is the man in the tan coat. He chases Eddie, who escapes and meets with Melissa.
Melissa explains that the pill makes you very sick, especially if you try to go off it cold turkey. She quit 2 years earlier, and felt she was lucky to be alive, but has lost her ability to concentrate, and has become lazy. She tells him the best way is to ease off gradually, reducing the dosage over time.
Eddie finds a pill in his pocket, and heads home to take it, but is aprehended by the Russian, Gennady, looking for his money. Gennady notices the pill, and takes it. Eddie gets his money from the bank, and the Russian tells him that it makes him feel very good.
Eddie is getting sicker as he goes through withdrawal, and stumbles into Lindy’s office. He tells her about the drug, and that he has hidden his stash at her apartment. Seeing how sick he is, she agrees to retrieve his stash and return it to him at her office.
On her way back to Eddie, Lindy is intercepted en route by the man in the tan coat. It becomes obvious that he is dangerous, as he gives chase to Lindy, killing two men trying to help her as she flees. By phone, Eddie convinces her to take a pill as it will enable her to know what to do to survive. Doing so, Lindy makes a bold escape. Though Eddie is saved, Lindy is convinced that he will destroy himself because of NZT and breaks up with him again.
The Russian enforcer realizes the effects the drug has and threatens Eddie until he agrees to give him more NZT. Because of Melissa’s warnings, Eddie manages his consumption of the drug down to an acceptable level, and uses his fortune to hire bodyguards, and recruits a scientist to work on reverse engineering NZT. Meanwhile, he reconnects with Van Loon to assist with the merger deal.
While planning the merger, Eddie is told he is a suspect for the murder of the blonde. He hires a top lawyer, Morris Brandt (Ned Eisenberg). Morris tells him that the room was wiped of finger prints, and there is no real evidence against him.
Negotiations on the merger go well, but Eddie notices how frail Atwood is. Van Loon tells Eddie that he will be paid $40 million if the deal closes. Eddie purchases a well fortified “bunker” penthouse.
At the meeting to close the merger deal, Atwood is late. His wife shows up, and says he would complete the deal, but is in a coma in the hospital. Her chauffeur is the man in the tan coat. He had been looking to get NZT for Atwood, thus confirming how he accomplished his meteoric rise.
Next, Eddie is met by his lawyer, and stands in a lineup for the murder. He is not identified. He had to pass his custom tailored suit jacket to the lawyer while he was in the lineup. When Eddie goes to take another pill, he realizes that the lawyer has lifted his stash of pills that were in a hidden pocket. To make matters worse, Van Loon accuses him of leaking the merger story to the press, and he has the hands of his bodyguards delivered to him in a box while he is meeting with Van Loon. He heads home to his bunker, and while trying to figure out what is going on, he sees Morris Brandt, his lawyer, on the television, acting as Atwood’s lawyer.
The Russians break down the door to his apartment, looking for the NZT. Gennady explains that he is no longer ingesting the pills, but instead dissolves them in a solution, and injects them. The effects hit faster, and last longer. While the Russian’s associates are searching the apartment, Eddie is able to stab Gennady. He is desperate for a hit as he lays beside the bleeding man. All he can do is drink the blood that is pooling beside him. Revitalized, he stabs one of the thugs in the eye, and tricks him into shooting the other.
Atwood dies at the hospital, Brandt having kept the NZT for himself. Eddie tells the man in the tan coat that Brandt has caused his boss to die, and gets his help retrieving his stolen NZT at Brandt’s house.
Twelve months later, Eddie’s book has been published (titled Illuminating the Dark Fields, a reference to the novel on which the film is based), and Eddie is running for the United States Senate. In the midst of his campaign, Carl Van Loon approaches Eddie with the revelation that he has bought the company secretly producing NZT and that the backroom lab Eddie was financing has been shut down.
Carl offers him an unlimited supply of NZT (admitting that they both know he is headed for Presidency); however, Eddie must use his political position to push Carl’s agenda in return. Eddie refuses, explaining that he no longer needs the drug. Apparently, having had the foresight to have multiple labs working on the NZT, Eddie bluffs that he improved the drug so that he taper off it completely without experiencing side effects, while permanently retaining its mental enhancements.
By touching Van Loon’s chest, Eddie, while still on NZT, can tell that he has a serious cardiac problem. Van Loon looks stunned. Eddie lets him know that with his enhanced thinking, he is already 50 moves ahead of Van Loon, having thought of every contingency, which wraps up their relationship.
The movie ends with Eddie meeting Lindy for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, their relationship apparently renewed. When the waiter walks by, Eddie stops him and orders in Chinese. Lindy looks at him, surprised, and Eddie asks (with a mischievous smile), “What?” Hinting that he is still using NZT. Although Eddie told he he was off NZT, Eddie is known throughout the movie for lying, with the best example being the book deal when he really just had a loan.
Think about how much of your brain you use during the course of the day. Chances are, it isn’t that much, right? Well, take that amount and multiply it a hundredfold. That is what the premise of Limitless is, being able to tap that part of the brain we don’t seem to use.
If nothing else is appealing about this flick, then that notion should be enough to at least pique your interest. At least it did for me, but I’m always curious about things.
So, I bet you’re thinking to yourself, what is it in this film that causes the limitless potential? Well, it all happens courtesy of a little drug called NZT. Don’t ask me how the drug actually works, because it isn’t really explained in the picture and I don’t know anything about it, other than the fact it does actually exist. I would wager, though, that its effects are nowhere near this scope.
Now, this films isn’t all about NZT, but also how it affects the life of one man and those around him. Wait, let me take that back, I shouldn’t say those around him, since he didn’t really have many people around him other than his girlfriend and then the boss he eventually earned after some time on the drug.
As you can about imagine, he does get a bit addicted, and, to no surprise, ends up owing money to some less than savory characters. I think you can also predict what happens involving his job and relationship, right? Well, if you were to guess he loses them, then you’re half right. He does, but then somehow gets them back. The film is almost like a romantic comedy on that front.
The big turning point for the film happens after the girlfriend finds out about the drugs and in order to keep him out of the hospital she goes to get the pills for him. On the way back, she is chased by a mysterious man. In order for her to escape, he tells her to take a pill so that she can know the best way to escape. This leads to quite the impressive and daring scenes of the film, culminating with using a little girl’s ice skates to cut the guy’s face.
After that there really isn’t much in the way of action, but more suspense as to what is actually going to happen next and how is this all going to end. The tension for the remainder of the film is sure to keep the audience engaged, especially the last 45 minutes or so.
Bradley Cooper has proven himself a very competent actor in the time he’s been in Hollywood. The guy can do action, comedy, and even serious roles like this. I had no problem with him here, though that whole schlub look he had going at the beginning of the film was kind of disturbing.
Like most people, when I hear Robert DeNiro is in a picture, I just assume it is going to be a great, major role for him. I’m not really sure if that is true about his character here. While he isn’t part of the film’s major plot, he does play a major role in the overall story arc, but I can’t help but think this was nothing more than an extended cameo. I could be wrong, though. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Abbie Cornish is actually not that bad of an actress, and she’s not bad looking either. I think someone put in my head that she was trying to hard to channel her inner Naomi Watts, because the whole time I was watching, that is who I was thinking she was. Whether that is a compliment or not, I’m not sure, but one thing is for sure, Abbie needs to create her own niche if she’s going to keep working in Hollywood…unless she just wants to go around being Naomi Watts’ backup, for lack of a better term.
The story here is quite compelling, as I mentioned earlier and audiences are sure to be enthralled. There are very few special effects, which allows for these actors to *GASP* act! Who would’ve thought that was even possible? I thought this was a really good film, on the cusp of being great, but something is keeping it from taking that next step. I just can’t put my finger on it. That point aside, I would highly recommend this flick as it a definite must-see and probably one of the most underrated films of 2011.
4 out of 5 stars