Movie Review: Limitless

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“How many of us ever know what it is to become the perfect version of ourselves?”

Directed by Neil Berger (“The Illusionist“), “Limitless” opens with a zealous zoom up of a skyscraper and then down the sidewalks and streets of Manhattan, artistically capturing the flurry of activities in colorful speed.

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper, “The A-Team“) has just been dumped by his girlfriend, “Lindy,” (Abbie Cornish) for being a jumbled mess. A hygiene-challenged writer with severe doses of writer’s block, he locks himself up in his ratty quarter and still can’t manage to eek out a word on paper to fulfill his book contract.

Eddie runs into his dealer ex-brother in law, “Vernon” (Johnny Whitworth), who takes pity on him and offers him a wonder pill to improve his life. At $800 a pop, NXT is an experimental, presumably FDA-approved drug that is not yet out in the market. Having nothing to lose, Eddie takes the bait and gets hooked, even as Vernon ends up dead.

Suddenly Eddie goes from nobody to somebody. With a fully supercharged brain (no longer the myth of twenty percent), he’s able to consciously recall long-stored memories, absorb everything, connect dots instantly and predict and project the next steps with remarkable clarity. He’s on his landlord’s wife best side, cleans up his place, learns piano and multiple foreign languages, finishes his book in days, plays the stock market and earns millions. With a fitter figure, new haircut, stylish suit and smooth confidence, Eddie looks more like… Bradley Cooper.

With his newfound appearance, skills and wealth, Eddie attracts the attention of Wall Street, specifically Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro). He deals without fear with a Russian loan shark (Andrew Howard). He gets the hottest invitations and jets to exotic beaches. He is a hit with the ladies and reconnects with Lindy.

Then the side effects start; headaches, vomits, blackouts. Hours would pass without Eddie knowing where he’s been and what he’s done. When he tracks down other users of NXT, he finds that they’re all very ill and dying. Life continues spinning wildly, just not in the direction that he wants to. The withdrawals become unbearable. His new life depends on his addiction, but this addiction would cost him his life. He’s also being pursued from different directions.

Cooper hit this one out of the park with his transformation from an unkempt bum – to a man on top of the world – to a strung-out druggie. More than makeup, he flawlessly slips in and out of panic to certainty, confusion to confidence, nervousness to suaveness, and vice-versa. The change in the color palate in Eddie’s altered state provides a clever visual impact. With supremely heightened awareness, viewed from Cooper’s piercing blue eyes, the world appears brighter and moves faster.

It’s human nature to strive to be better. In the land of instant gratification and pressure-cooker times, who doesn’t need superhuman power these days? What if there’s a fix that would unlock all your potentials and propel your abilities to a limitless level? Would you be tempted to take it to know how it’s like to really be all you can be?

“Limitless” fades with an ending open for interpretation. With arresting premise, visual and action, it’s more than a thrill in a pill.

Copyright (c) 2011. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, lifestyle/travel writer and film columnist. She can be reached at Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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