Limitless: movie review

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

In action-thriller 'Limitless,' Bradley Cooper plays a struggling writer who stumbles upon a brain-enhancing drug that radically changes his life.

John Baer/Relativity Media/AP
Robert De Niro (l.) and Bradley Cooper are shown in a scene from 'Limitless.'

What would you do if you could take a pill and suddenly access 100 percent of your brain power? This is the premise behind “Limitless,” a sci-fi thriller that looks as if its makers utilized around 30 percent of theirs.

Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a would-be novelist whose life changes radically when he is introduced to NZT, an experimental, black-market pharmaceutical that allows him to remember everything he ever read or experienced, learn new languages in a day, master complex equations in a blink, mastermind Wall Street, and, presumably, decipher the plot of “Inception.”

Since nothing this powerful comes without a price, Eddie is soon scrambling to replenish his supply (the effects of one pill wear off within a day or so) and fight off the mobsters who are wise to his wisdom. Meantime, his shiny girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), who had written Eddie off as a deadbeat, reconnects with her newfound brainiac. He also attracts the attention of Wall Street mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who resembles a cross between Warren Buffet and a smiling cobra.

Is the fact that Eddie applies his brain power almost exclusively to the financial sector, as opposed to, say, curing cancer or ending world hunger, intended as some kind of social commentary by director Neil Burger and writer Leslie Dixon? Or, as I suspect, is it just that their conception of intelligence isn’t very intelligent? Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language.)

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