Following the Academy Award season is springtime, the worst time of the year for movies. Between iconic award-savvy films and the summer blockbusters to come, the spring film season usually consists of grade B comedies and bad teen horror flicks. “Limitless” is the exception, an original psychological thriller that may be the last hope in the coming month. However, this one may have to wait for DVD.
NZT-48 is the name of the mysterious life-altering pill that falls randomly into the hands of struggling booze-hound novel writer Eddie Morra (Cooper). The one sentence plot seems pretty far-fetched; a pill that bestows the superhuman ability to access 100 percent of your brain, as opposed to the usual 20 percent.
Nevertheless, screenwriter Leslie Dixon takes advantage of every known possibility that could come of this in perfect form, like witnessing a superhero discover his abilities for the first time. Next thing you know, Morra finishes writing his book in four days, becomes a shark on Wall Street and knows everything about anything, even when it comes to fighting off muggers and seducing any lady he wants. Is it enough to keep a decent plot for 105 minutes? Well, almost.
Believe it or not, Cooper can act. For once, he’s not just swinging ladies and playing the cocky handsome face we’ve all seen in “The Hangover,” “The A-Team” and “Wedding Crashers.” Acting alongside icons like Robert De Niro, who plays Cooper’s Wall Street boss with excellence, he has to put his game face on. Cooper’s transformation from the sleaze, broke writer to the trimmed quintessential man we all strive to be is nothing less than great character acting. It looks like Cooper has finally broken out of his shell.
However, superb acting isn’t enough to grade this as a four-star film. The plot deteriorates in the last 20 minutes of the film. Being deprived of the drug and being chased by thugs who want a piece of the action really wasn’t enough to stay hooked.
The climax is dull, and the ending is too simplistic and predictable. Trying to watch a superhuman with no flaws and weaknesses that can succeed in any situation doesn’t give any doubt for the character, which will dry up an audience fast, similar to a villain that can never be beaten or killed. What’s the point of watching?
Nevertheless, I’ve got to hand it to this director for delivering truly mind-bending substance. Throughout Cooper’s use of the drug, he has instances of blacking out for hours at a time and rampaging through New York City. Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”) couldn’t have captured this better. It felt like I was actually on drugs as Burger sent me through infinite moving scenery and awkward Dutch angles. The film transforms into a funhouse that puts the viewer in Cooper’s shoes as the dependent druggy.
The overall theme very much speaks of our society run on energy drinks and adderall. NZT-48 is a pill that truly illustrates the ultimate drug of the human element: when a man has everything, he just wants more. This, unfortunately, is exactly what this film needs: more.