Limitless. Dir. Neil Burger. Perf. Bradley Cooper, Robert de Niro, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel, Richard Bekins. 2011.
Well, there you have it: Having seen the trailer above, you have just seen the entire plot of Limitless, with the only omission being a small (but, I confess, intriguing) plot twist at the end. Writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is given a drug that allows him to tap into his hidden potential, enjoys the benefits, and eventually learns (though a little too late) that actions have consequences. In Limitless, these consequences include lost days, drug addiction, and the disintegration of relationships. The benefits include getting to work with Robert de Niro, whose performance is (as ever) impeccable but (on this occasion) severely hampered by a stultifying script.
Limitless as a concept is a good one, and although my expectations, based upon the preview, weren't outrageously high, I was heavily disappointed. Morra's character makes an entire series of idiotic decisions, and the consequences should have been even more dramatic than they were; the main message of this film seems to be that most actions have consequences, but money changes everything. Nowhere in the film does Morra ever seriously weigh his options and their potential outcomes, and by the time the numerous flashbacks return us to the moment in Morra's life at which the film begins, every moment is tedium. From this relative boredom we are quickly led into the world of bad gimmicks of the sort a teenager would use to disgust his friends. Throughout the slow monotony of these ill-written scenes, Bradley Cooper does a competent job acting as the imbecilic slug you'll love to despise (and hope to see crushed into a thousand pieces by a truck (the second scene in the film, where he jaywalks across the street, would have been an ideal moment for this potentially delightful moment).
Add to the script's failings some truly nauseating special effects, in which the crew seem determined to impose seasickness upon viewers by means of an almost unending motion blur, and this film is one you'll love to miss. Its only redeeming attributes are the acting performances of Robert de Niro (a methodical, demanding madman), Richard Bekins (whose physical performance provided the most elegant foreshadowing in the entire film), and Anna Friel (perhaps the most memorable female character, although she's only a cameo). Having caught this inspid drama at a local off-run theatre, I'm left wishing I'd spent my one dollar on a Snickers bar instead, which would at least have saved me one hundred and five of the dullest minutes of my life.