Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro
The thriller “Limitless” has a message, and it’s not one for proponents of the D.A.R.E program.
In its backward way, Neil Burger’s film attempts to extol the joys of getting high, especially when the illicit substance in question gets your neurons firing at multiple times their normal rate. Yet it offers a strangely arid experience, without the gleeful, drugged-out weirdness of a truly offbeat endeavor.
Bradley Cooper headlines this overstuffed drama as Eddie Morra, a haggard, good-for-nothing writer transformed into a slick, successful businessman by the wonders of NZT, a rare miracle drug that unlocks untapped reservoirs in the brain. The once-luckless schlub soon attracts the attention of financial bigwig Eddie Van Loon (Robert De Niro), and must evade violent Russian mobsters, who are desperate for a taste.
The narrative jerks around with such impunity that the endless parade of events — Eddie advises a major merger, stands accused of murder and evades professional killers, for example — runs together in a blur.
Cooper and De Niro don’t help matters, sailing through the film on autopilot, failing to infuse their relationship with requisite mentor-mentee dramatics.
Despite a few nicely disorienting camera tricks, Burger adopts a rather restrained approach that keeps the film rooted far from the trippy, off-the-wall sensibility the material deserves.
If you’re going to celebrate drug use as a shortcut to knowledge and happiness, at least let us share some of the ecstatic, crazed pleasures of life on the pill.