Sex, Drugs and De Niro.
As far as charismatic actors go, I think Bradley Cooper takes the cake. Characters such as "Face" in The A-Team and Phil in The Hangover have served him well in this aspect so far, and his starring role in the new Limitless movie is no different.
Cooper is Eddie Morra, a dead-beat NY writer struggling to make ends meet. But when a chance meeting with an ex-brother in law introduces him to a new drug called NZT-48, Eddie's life is transformed overnight. Now able to access the full 100% of his brain (as opposed to the supposed 20% the rest of us do), Eddie becomes an established author, bi-lingual master and stock-market legend in just a few money-and-sex-fueled weeks. But with all this power comes a price and Eddie's going to find that out the hard way: Enter haunting blackouts and some ticked off bad guys...
The plot's certainly interesting enough, and it's a very original idea that looks at the themes of drugs, corporate corruption and paranoia. Unfortunately however, the script is less impressive. It's bumpy at times (especially towards the second half) and feels like it can't decide what plot device to stick with, constantly switching between different narrative directions and leaving some gaping plot-holes in it's wake.
Luckily, the lopsided script is patched over by some genuinely innovative visuals; there's a great difference in cinematography between the times our protagonist is using the drug and when he isn't. For instance, once the pill's been popped, colours become vibrant and alive, and some great uses of technical shots are creatively deployed with dizzying zooms and POV-style fish-eye. When Eddie's sober however, things take on a dingy grey look that really sets the mood for the distressing "cold-turkey" scenes.
Performances are solid, with Cooper dominating the piece from start to finish with his aforementioned charisma and suave style. And although his thought narration can occasionally sound a little flat, it adds humour to the package, and his transition from grungy hobo to super-smooth genius is just stunning. Even though her role fells a little "on/off" in terms of narrative, Abbie Cornish pulls through nicely as Eddie's girlfriend, Lindy, and Robert De Niro is on usual form as powerful businessman Carl Van Loon, despite the disappointingly dolled-down appearance he has.
The plot does hold its own towards the end though, and delivers an unpredictable conclusion that shouldn't really work, but does. The blending of tension, drama and humour succeeds amongst this distinct tale, granting audiences with a pleasingly smart experience for those who are tired of all out explosion filled action movies.
Limitless is by no means a bad film, and sustains the techno-thriller vibe it's aiming for. It's visuals and audio are well matched and innovative, the actors do not disappoint and there are some genuinely commendably clever moments in there. The fun and brashness of a decent story is blatantly present, but it's just a shame that the script doesn't quite coincide with the intelligence of it's premise.