Limitless - Blu-ray Review

'Morra is a schlubby Clark Kent who changes into Superman by accident and by way of a clear circular tablet'

A popcorn-friendly thriller with bright visuals, a magnetic leading man and a healthy dose of 1980s paranoia, Limitless is a fun and breezy one-hundred minutes in the company of drug-addled Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), whose brain is enhanced via an addictive wonder-drug delivered via ex brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth).

If that sounds a little far-fetched then rest assured that the script doesn't care and you really shouldn't either. Accept that Vernon's wonder-drug is Limitless' MacGuffin, without backstory or semblance of information as to where it came from, and the trip will be all that easier to ride. Morra, a deadbeat writer with a propensity for getting drunk instead of hitting the keyboard, is the everyman suddenly in possession of superhuman brainpower. He's a schlubby Clark Kent who changes into Superman by accident and by way of a clear circular tablet.

Weaved into the story that could have quickly devolved into a series of scenes where Morra gets everything he wanted and more is a healthy dose of paranoia and threat, thrown at the lead by way of secret side effects, Eastern European gangsters and a mysterious tail Morra can't seem to shake. Director Neil Burger is wise to focus on these elements in a middle third which could have been far too baggy and 'hip' and where Robert De Niro's businessman threatens to become a distraction rather than a plot component.

Burger's direction (and Jo Willems cinematography, which uses brighter filters to signify when Morra is on the wonder drug) is tight and focused but there is an over-reliance on the narration which, at times, is incredibly annoying. Limitless is Burger's fourth film and really, by now, he shouldn't need this crutch and the frequency of the narration in Leslie Dixon's script should have been reduced markedly.

Limitless is a film that's also notable for completing Bradley Cooper's transformation from part-time TV star to major Hollywood player. Limitless is original (and therefore risky) material and Cooper's successful gambles here take many forms, one being his extra Executive Producer credit. It doesn't rewrite the thriller rule book but it is functional fun with occasional splashes of talented stylisation. Shows that it's worth keeping an eye on Cooper's next non-franchise choices whilst strong supporting turns from Abbie Cornish and Anna Friel also bear mentioning.


  1. A pop-corn friendly thriller...I like that phrase!! But it is an apt description! I must admit I liked this even though it may have its flaws. This year has just been a blitz of CGI so this stood out in actually having a human cast...shock horror there is such a thing still in cinema?!o
    I like Abbie Cornish, and doesn't she lok just delish in this?! Never seen her look so good. Three stars is a fair grade I think as well, not great but certainly not mediocre either.

  2. Yes, I'm with you all the way on the first sentiment. It's why I'm quite looking forward to seeing THE LINCOLN LAWYER. There doesn't seem to be as many straight-up, non-CGI, character-led original thrillers as there used to be and when those films come along they're often the ones I enjoy quite a lot.

    Agree too on Cornish. I remember watching her a while ago in SOMERSAULT (which I really didn't like) and since then she's only got better and better. Wish there was more time to focus on her for a bit in this.

  3. Never heard of Somersault!! Have you see her in Bright Star? It is by NZ'er Jane Campion. I think it is her best role of the ones I've seen. I found Bright Star a bit boring but Campion is a beautiful film maker and this is visually stunning, just a tad too slow for my liking.
    I hated Cornish in Sucker Punch because she looked so slutty which doesn't suit her at all.

  4. Almost everything I've read about BRIGHT STAR is prefaced and/or epilogued by 'it's a bit boring' or statement of a similar nature. Due to that, it's not high on my list.