Witty premise, well handled

2011-04-18 00:00

HOW ideal! Simply take a pill to cure writer’s block. Not only cure it, but churn out a novel in mere days. That’s where Limitless begins. Admittedly, the thought of Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) in the lead role opposite Robert de Niro didn’t inspire many a critic prior to the film’s release — but he shines, and director Neil Burger is equal to the task.

Science says we can access only 20% of our brain, but the secret to our character’s success is a drug called NZT, which ups the ante to full throttle. The result is quasi-superpower ability. After being seriously depressed, the “four-digit IQ” dumpster takes the drug that allows him to tap his full potential.

With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets as long as he keeps taking the untested drug. Soon he’s a Wall Street genius and being head-hunted by mega moguls, including Carl van Loon (De Niro), who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history.

However, things start skidding for Eddie as he battles the side-effects and discovers that there are a number of other narcs who also want a dose of NZT.

While Eddie may be using his brain 100%, the good news is that the audience doesn’t need to. That isn’t to say the film is not enjoyable — if you can ignore the gaps in logic, go with the hedonistic flow and enjoy the thrills along the way. Cooper is central to it all, lavishing just the right amount of mojo on the many polarities that this role brings: the homeless drabness of New York journalist, the charm of the ordinary guy and the despicable smoothness of the stock market guru.

Director Burger can take a bow: he’s done justice to a script that sets up the witty premise that a drug may be the reason all the real-world moguls have developed mega-trends in the modern world. ****

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