Limitless (2011) – directed by Neil Burger

It was with trepidation that I decided to watch Limitless. From what I had seen of Limitless in the media, it smacked of a standard Hollywood thriller nothing more, nothing less. My previous encounter with director Neil Burger’s work was his 2006 period film of intrigue The Illusionist, to which I wasn’t crazy about, but it entertained enough.

Limitless is a thriller concerning failing author Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) who is struggling with his personal relationships as well as trying to find inspiration to complete his book. Down on his luck he bumps into his ex-wife’s brother who invites him for a drink and plies him with a curious narcotic pill. Heralding the drug’s power to unlock the true potential of your brain, Eddie sees this as an opportunity to get out of his lethargy. He takes the pill and so the fun begins.

Limitless is a film that is clearly informed by David Fincher’s modern classic Fight Club (1999). There are the visual tropes of Fincher’s style scattered throughout, and the first third of the film has a nicely formed structure. Eddie, who commands the lions share of the screen time, is a nicely developed character and the plot line is rich with a powder keg of potential. I was pleasantly surprised at this point and excited at what lay ahead.

To its credit Limitless held my attention for the entire 105 minutes but ultimately it was not a satisfying film. Almost a victim of its stellar setup, so much potential went unrealized. Unfortunately there were huge flaws in the plot, but despite this I attempted to suspend disbelief and go for the ride. However, my disbelief was swiftly derailed multiple times throughout. Just when I felt that there was real intrigue and plot development it would be destroyed by a pointless car chase or unbelievable character motivations. Disappointingly this film fell victim to the juggernaut that is the Hollywood formula. Car chases, attractive cast, cliche’d Russian bad guys etc.

Oh well never mind, next film please.

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