"Limitless" was pretty much going to be the drug movie of the new age; the "Requiem for a Dream" of the 21st Century. It didn't really turn out that way. While it may have prompted me to read the book, it delivered some other, stranger messages. One of them seeming to be "drugs are great" and "if you do enough of them, you'll be president someday" which I find a little odd. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
The film is about Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a writer who is creatively-blocked, unkempt and just got dumped. He is glowering in the worthlessness of himself when he runs into his ex-wife's brother (Johnny Whitworth) and is given a mystery drug that bestows upon him more or less superhuman abilities. Of course, from here, things can only go up. Nevermind that the brother was, at a time, a derelict drug-dealer who should never be trusted.
Bradley Cooper was, as he always is, excellent in this role. He broke out of his normal role to play someone with a lot more depth and emotion, while also remaining a stylish and charming son of a bitch.
About halfway through the film, though, I couldn't help but ask: wait, wasn't Robert de Niro supposed to be in this movie? And he is. For very little of it. It kind of looks like they just got him in because it was a big name that would draw crowds, but he was still great in the role of tycoon Carl van Loon.
Sure, bad things do happen to Eddie even after he's taken the super-drug - most of the bad things caused by it - but I didn't feel there was any kind of evolution. He was a failure, he took drugs and became awesome. Period. I'll leave it up to you whether this fits the mould of a redemption or evolution story, but I don't think it does - and to its detriment. Usually, I'm all for subverting a genre and changing things up, but this just didn't seem to gel with me. Still, watching Bradley Cooper act for 2 hours up against de Niro was definitely worth the money and the cinematography and music were both excellent. 7.5/10