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Capone believes you may need to pop a pill to fully appreciated Bradley Cooper in LIMITLESS!!!

Published at: March 18, 2011, 1:17 a.m. CST

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Director Neil Burger made one of my favorite debut films in the last 10 years, INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN. Find it and watch it-- it will freak you out and impress you greatly. After close-but-no-cigar attempts at telling stories that certainly no one else was telling at the time (THE ILLUSIONIST and THE LUCKY ONES), Burger has finally made a film that I found came the closest to capturing what he accomplished with ASSASSIN. From the novel by Alan Glynn, adapted by Leslie Dixon, LIMITLESS captures that great sense of paranoia and tension that populated Burger's first movie, this time in the form of a world where a drug allows people to maximize the power of their brain to such a degree that there is literally nothing they can't do in terms of learning and thinking.

Bradley Cooper (also listed as an executive producer on the film) plays struggling writer Eddie Morra, a divorced man, who has a looming deadline with his publisher and not a word written on his novel. When he bumps into his drug-dealer ex-brother-in-law, he is given a pill called NZT and before he knows it, he's banging out the first several chapters of his book and knows exactly how to read people enough to impress/seduce them without even trying. By unlocking your brain's potential, every stray memory of everything you have ever heard or seen is at your fingertips. But the effects only last about a day, and once the ability is gone, it's gone--until you take another pill.

Through a turn I don't want to ruin, Eddie gets his hands on several hundred pills, enough to finish his book, learn a language a day, and analyze stock market trends to see the patterns and make himself a nice chunk of change. His Wall Street dealings attract the attention of Carl Van Loom (Robert De Niro), one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, who asks Eddie to help him research and bargain what could be the biggest deal ever. Eddie is also trying to win back his ex-girlfriend (Abbie Cornish), who left him back during his bout with writer's block.

I especially enjoyed the scenes with Cooper in gross-dude mode, with shaggy hair and ratty clothes. I feel like recently I've seen a bit too much of him in variations of his cool-guy look that he had in THE HANGOVER. But the transformation is fairly convincing in LIMITLESS. The paranoia aspect comes in as both a side effect of the drug and from very real sources, like a loan shark that wants to kill Eddie for not paying him back or Van Loon checking up on Eddie's background. It's also very possible that during Eddie's increasing blackouts, he murdered someone, so there are police looking for him. The swirling mess of Eddie's life is great stuff.

I've never been quite sure what to think of Cooper as an actor. But I'm also not sure he's been challenged quite like he is in LIMITLESS, and this film perhaps tests his abilities more so than he's been tested before. I'm not sure Cornish--looking more than ever like a young Nicole Kidman--gets a fair shot at really being more than a pretty face in this movie, but she does get one juicy sequence where she gets to pop a smart pill and outwit some baddies out to get her. With only three or four scenes in the movie, De Niro plays Van Loon as an intimidating force without being overtly threatening. It's a great, restrained part that is still downright scary at times. Cooper and De Niro have a confrontation scene at the end of the movie that is so perfect, it's by far the best scene in the film.

Where LIMITLESS falls down somewhat has nothing to do with performance or story; it has to do with Burger's standard flaw: over-explaining everything. There's nothing left to chance. Even the dumbest audience member is going to understand every twist and turn in the movie, if Burger has his way. No viewer left behind. There are a couple of scenes where it gets downright annoying. And this isn't a little, dismissible thing in my mind; it's a near-fatal flaw at times that really keeps me from being fully behind this film. Still, the good outweighs the bad in LIMITLESS, and I am recommending it for the solid performances and a story that kept me guessing just where the hell it was going. There are some great revelation moments in the movie concerning just how wide spread the NZT epidemic is, and for those moments in particular, I give the movie points. All in all, I had a great deal of fun with this one, even if I felt like Burger was pushing a little too hard at times.

-- Capone
capone@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback

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  • March 18, 2011, 1:25 a.m. CST

    van loom, van loon, whatev.

    by frankenfickle

    it's just a movie review, who gives a shit. hey, by the way, that dumb alien movie ad took over my mouse pointer and then my whole browser! wow, awesome, thanks guys.

  • March 18, 2011, 1:47 a.m. CST

    it's KOWTOW not COW TOW you illiterate

    by golden tribw

    jeez

  • from the king of brown nosing

  • March 18, 2011, 1:48 a.m. CST

    spoiler box, por favor

    by BadMrWonka

    I didn't need to know a couple points there, Capone, sir. thanks for a good review, though. I do want to see this one, I think it's gonna be a fun, fairly cerebral thriller, which is right up my alley.

  • March 18, 2011, 1:49 a.m. CST

    i have two tabs open, thought this was JANE EYRE

    by golden tribw

    oy vey

  • March 18, 2011, 2:29 a.m. CST

    The pill clearly represents ecstacy

    by Majority

    It has the same effects of processing thoughts in a more complete way and using more of your potential. Anyone that has taken it knows

  • March 18, 2011, 3:26 a.m. CST

    this'll be my first in theater film of 2011

    by ciroslive

    thanks to the participation of Bradley Cooper and DeNiro. I can't wait.

  • March 18, 2011, 3:55 a.m. CST

    I find Bradley Cooper highly unlikeable

    by 3D-Man

    He has one of those faces that you just want to punch repeatedly.

  • March 18, 2011, 4:18 a.m. CST

    Majority...

    by Pawprint

    Yes, because clearly all the world's greatest thinkers, scientists and smart businessmen are constantly throwing fistfuls of ecstacy down their throats.... Meanwhile, back in the real world, the only potential ecstacy unlocks is the potential to dance like a twat, gurn like a baboon, and sweat all over random strangers while you tell them you love them. By your logic, 'Bez' from 'The Happy Mondays' should be curing AIDS, cancer, heart disease and solving the global fuel crisis all at the same time. Enjoy your drugs if you want; just don't try and justify it - or try to appear superior - by making up bullshit about them being beneficial.

  • March 18, 2011, 5:22 a.m. CST

    Excellent Review, Capone. But it makes me think of a similar story....

    by Cheif Brody

    OPEN LETTER TO BRADLEY COOPER: <p> After playing the snide, snarky douchebag in Wedding Crashers...and somewhat unsavory characters in your follow ups... Bradley Cooper just graduated from an actor that chicks dig...and guys don't hate...to an actor chicks REALLY dig and Dudes REALLY HATE. <p> Limitless is your transitional role. Hopefully your appeal will be saved by Hangover II... but for now, Bradley... I'd say... Lay low for a while. Do some plays. Nobody wants you to succeed. It came too quickly. Yer peaking too soon. Earn this.... or get pigeon holed. Your choice. <p> Ok...back to the review... too bad. I rather thought the more interesting plot mightr be: WHAT IF WE WERE ALL GENIUSES? What if everyone had unlimited access to NZT? What if there were NO idiots in the world. No one worthy of menial labor? No ditch diggers... No toilet scrubbers. What then? <p> What if we were ALL 50 steps ahead of everyone else? How far could you push it? Seems as if the movie takes the easy route... only showing us how one or two people excellerate their brains for personal benefit. <p> Hmmm.... Bradley...Got a play for you... "Flowers For Algernon". Put on Charlie Gordon's shoes for a bit. This story conjures a more complex display of Limitless. <p> "Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eye are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye." <p> Take a break, Brad.

  • March 18, 2011, 7:04 a.m. CST

    Cooper seems like a pretty cool dude...

    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    Just listened to his recent Stern interview. I mean, he looks like your typical frat boy douche bag, but he came off really likable in the interview; very humble, not full of himself at all. I think I'll see this one. For one, the trailer(s) don't turn me off, and two, the story actually sounds pretty interesting. I should probably read the book then, eh?

  • March 18, 2011, 7:26 a.m. CST

    Me flunk English?

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    That's unpossible.

  • March 18, 2011, 7:56 a.m. CST

    Sh!te ending

    by Mr_P

    Utterly insults the intelligence and expects you to disregard everything you have been told up until then so we can put a nice happy hollywood bow on it. Total pish!

  • March 18, 2011, 9:04 a.m. CST

    writing a movie review

    by MrBurrrns

    does NOT equal writing a fucking synopsis of the movie!!! goddammit, the only thing missing is the ending, how about telling us that too so we can save us the drive to the cinema...

  • March 18, 2011, 9:10 a.m. CST

    PKMzeta is the real DZT...

    by zinc_chameleon

    and just released by an Israeli research team not more than month ago. Check it out at: http://tinyurl.com/69wxrbn

  • March 18, 2011, 9:12 a.m. CST

    LITERACY...

    by PatientZer0

    You're doing it wrong. Capone believes you may need to pop a pill to fully appreciated Bradley Cooper in LIMITLESS!!! Is it too much to ask to freakin' proof read your copy? I mean, you are getting PAID to write this aren't you?

  • March 18, 2011, 9:16 a.m. CST

    AND ONE MORE THING

    by PatientZer0

    Thanks for the FULL AND SPOILERIFIC SYNOPSIS of the film. Now I can save my money and go buy some drugs.

  • March 18, 2011, 9:16 a.m. CST

    "stop trolling you useless fuckwad."

    by NightArrows

    Says the useless flap of skin known as the Taint of AICN.

  • March 18, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST

    Interview with the Assassin is on Netflix streaming

    by SpawnofAchilles

    Interview with the Assassin is on Netflix streaming so you guys are aware.

  • March 18, 2011, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Chief brody, I think the movie you're loking for...

    by kisskissbangbang

    would be a film of Poul Anderson's Brain Wave, a novel in which everyone gets smarter, animals with the minds of mentally deficient humans, those humans becoming normals, normals geniuses, and geniuses.It was Anderson's first big novel and made his reputation. You might want to check it out. Ted Chiang's Understand is also classic in this area, but it's a) a short story and b) an interior, supergenius POV story (though in 3rd person) that would be difficult to film. Great story though.

  • March 18, 2011, 10:25 a.m. CST

    What? No Ferlin Husky obituary?

    by Subtitles_Off

  • March 18, 2011, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Travolta's Phenomenon now available in in pill form!

    by Spandau Belly

    I might actually rent this. Sounds okay.

  • March 18, 2011, 10:30 a.m. CST

    I may actually get a sitter and go see this.

    by BrooklynBred

    This film actually makes the wife and me want to go to the movies again. Something we stopped doing years ago thanks to the ish that comes out.

  • like Seth Rogen overexposed

  • March 18, 2011, 10:57 a.m. CST

    I meant "looking" in my head...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...and it appears I got your name wrong, _cheif_ brody, so apologies on that score as well.

  • March 18, 2011, 11:30 a.m. CST

    Pawprint

    by Flibbertygibbet

    Sadly, you just accurately described about 5 years of my life. So much so in fact, I'm wondering if we actually met during that time? Try to remember - I was the one trying to eat my own face. Anything?

  • March 18, 2011, 12:22 p.m. CST

    The Scientology Movie

    by MGTHEDJ

    Use all of your brain and learn how to read people, but only a few know the secret. Classic Scientology. And Copper getting an exec. producer credit means more money for the church. For those of you bitching about Cooper being over-exposed, that's what Scientology does. They get their people tons of work so the cult can make more money when the cult member "donates" half their paycheck.-----later-----m

  • March 18, 2011, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Kind of like Hourman only with brains.

    by cookylamoo

    Instead of being able to lift cars.

  • Why else would he have hosted SNL months BEFORE "The Hangover" made him a star? It's because it was preordained that Bradley Cooper would become the "next big thing." Don't buy into it, sheeple! You're playing right into their hands!

  • March 18, 2011, 12:50 p.m. CST

    Meatheads, Mouthbreathers, Fratboys...

    by Dr. Egon Spengler

    Insults that can all be used interchangeably... Those who are getting labeled by them all have that aura and *look* about them. You know what I'm talking about mr ahole. It's easy to spot a douche bag a mile away.

  • March 18, 2011, 2:06 p.m. CST

    He irritates me

    by proevad

    Some guys are too pretty. He annoyed me on Alias. A guy on the show shouldn't be hotter than Jennifer Garner.

  • March 18, 2011, 2:30 p.m. CST

    What's with the spoilers?

    by Fritzlorrerains

    Not cool dude.

  • March 18, 2011, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Contradictory, much?

    by PorkChopXpress

    "Even the dumbest audience member is going to understand every twist and turn in the movie, if Burger has his way. No viewer left behind." Followed immediately by... "...and a story that kept me guessing just where the hell it was going." So...color me confused.

  • March 18, 2011, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Thanks kisskissbangbang

    by Cheif Brody

    I will definitely look that one up!

  • March 18, 2011, 10:32 p.m. CST

    I hope you like it, cheif...

    by kisskissbangbang

    ...it came out in 1954, so it's a little dated (Cold War & all that), but the sheer audacity of the concept and the, well, intelligence of its handling still stand up, I think. I'd also recommend Poul Anderson in general. As several have pointed out, if you're looking for the sf writer who best combines prolificity, versatility, longevity & consistent quality, then you're talking either Anderson or Robert Silverberg, who I also recommend (though with Silverberg I'd only read something he wrote after '64 or so). Other Anderson titles I love are The High Crusade, Three Hearts and Three Lions, Tau Zero, Boat of A Million Years, and A Midsummer Tempest. His series about Nicholas van Rijn or Dominic Flandry are worthwhile, too. He died about a decade ago, after writing the novella Genesis, one of his best. If I had to pick one...Tau Zero, breathtaking hard sf about a starship travelling just under the speed of light when it has an accident and can't stop, as first the decades pile up, then centuries, millennia...and only a few years pass by for them. Haunting, and the opposite of my second favorite, the romp of The High Crusade, where medieval Brits turn the tables on a group of visiting hostile aliens, steal their craft and head out to conquer the galaxy. Sounds ridiculous, but it's delightful, and would make a great crossgenre film. (I apologize for the length of this comment, but, as is obvious, I love this guy's stuff.)

  • March 19, 2011, 4:08 p.m. CST

    saw this last night

    by drave117

    I've never seen a movie lose two stars in the last sixty seconds before. Seriously, I was really enjoying it right up to the end, but the ending is absolutely terrible. Like, Law Abiding Citizen levels of terrible. It completely negates everything interesting about the story, and downgrades it from a fascinating piece of science fiction about ambition, motivation, and personal accountability into a pointless and unsatisfying exercise in wish-fulfillment. Up until that god-awful ending, though, it's a damned good movie. Really unusual special effects, to, and I am a sucker for those.

  • March 19, 2011, 8:15 p.m. CST

    Would you need to smoke crack before wathing "LIMITLESS"?

    by MrMysteryGuest

  • March 19, 2011, 8:16 p.m. CST

    "watching" is what I meant to say...

    by MrMysteryGuest

  • March 20, 2011, 10:22 p.m. CST

    The ending was the best part.

    by I Hope You Die

    They had the balls to take the story to its logical conclusion rather than make it the usual morality tale bullshit where he realises he doesn't need to be smart after all.