I avoided this film at the cinema from pure annoyance that the core of the story seemed to depend on a well-known falsehood that humans only use 10% of their brains. This well-quoted statistic is just rubbish and has been used a lot by merchants of woo as evidence it is possible that someone using the other 90% with have amazing mental powers. It worried me that it was also used to market this film. Disbelief suspended for now it’s time to talk about the film
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is standing on a penthouse balcony with killers closing in on him and he’s about to throw himself off. We’ll clearly come back to this scene later. We flash back to Eddie as a scruffy loser who can’t write and leeches off his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) to get by. Everything changes when he takes drug given to him by his ex-wife’s brother Vernon. NZT-48 is a brain enhancing drug that improves reflexes, memory, concentration and heightens his senses and makes the camera lose its blue filter. Buzzing on the drug, he cleans up his apartment and gets to work writing his book all through the rest of the night. The following morning he is back to normal but now has large chunk of his book written.
Eddie goes to Vernon’s apartment to get more of the drug. He seems oblivious to fact that Vernon looks rough and roughed-up. Vernon knows he’s after more NZT-48 but first he make Eddie go a few errands for him. When Eddie gets back Vernon is dead with a bullet in his brain and the apartment has been ransacked. He calls the police to report the murder then desperately hunts for the drug . Luckily Eddie finds a large stash of the drug with a pile of money and pockets both as the police arrive.
We then get a montage of Eddie being smart, competent and popular, hanging with around loose women in exotic locations and driving fast cars. He wants to be rich and powerful and can’t make money fast enough so he turns to a dodgy Russian moneylender ( I thought the drug was supposed you smart). With that money he really starts getting into his stride, making large amounts on the stock-market. This brings to him to attention of rich powerful people, such as Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) the boss of a energy company who is really impressed with Eddie’s ideas and arranges another meeting the following day ( I wonder if his humourless no-nonsense persona is a side effect of growing up with that hilarious name).
Eddie starts seeing the downside of NZT-48 – his supply is starting to run low and he getting withdrawal symptoms and he hasn’t even found out who makes it. He has blackouts where he may have killed a woman. He blows it big time at his meeting with Van Loon. The Russian moneylender has also got a taste for the drug (thanks to Eddie forgetting to pay him his money – that must the ‘Smart’ drug at work again) and he’s on Eddie’s back for more. Whoever killed Vernon is now after him too. And the blue filter is back on the camera
I did enjoy watching this film but it didn’t really go anywhere that was too surprising and the ending was just a cheat. For someone who is apparently limitless his ambition seem so restrained and conventional. It seems that drug turns off the part of the brain that stops people being arrogant megalomaniacs. The mention of the “humans only use 10% of their brain” nonsense is just a lot of rubbish and really wasn’t needed for the plot all. Google is a good friend to writers doing research and a terrible foe to all those that just can’t be bothered. Bradley Cooper was okay as Eddie but then I didn’t like Eddie as either arrogant selfish genius or a self-pitying loser. Robert De Niro was great especially the scene where he’s giving Eddie a real dressing down. Anna Friel is in the film as Eddie’s ex-wife Melissa which is really not a big part. She does okay with what she given to do.
- DVD Review: Limitless (blogcritics.org)
- IMDb page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219289/
- Amazon page http://www.amazon.co.uk/Limitless-DVD-Bradley-Cooper/dp/B0051NH5K4
- about that 10% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10%25_of_brain_myth
- and more http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-we-really-use-only-10