Limitless is that old morality tale of a man who gets everything he's ever wanted, only to find those things quickly turning on him until everything's gone to hell and he's face-down in a pool of Russian loan shark blood while thieves power-saw into his safe full of genius pills. Which sounds over-the-top -- and Limitless most definitely is, through and through -- but the movie revels so spectacularly in being mindless, well-crafted, moral-free fun that, like Crank before it (it's even frenetically shot like Crank is), it works on a visceral level, hitting all those pleasure centers of the brain that only watching Bradley Cooper beat the hell out of 12 guys at once (in a $10,000 custom suit, mind you) can.
The plot isn't much more complicated than the trailers make it out to be, but in case you missed all those the story is this: Eddie Morra is an unshowered slacker who is way behind on writing his novel. One day, he runs into an elite drug dealer acquaintance from his past, and in a classic dealer move the guy gives him a free sample of a brand new drug called NZT, which will allow Eddie to access the fabled 100% of his brain so he can bang out his book in time for his deadline. So he takes the first dose, and he does finish his book -- and it's the greatest book ever written. Also, he's able to talk his way into sleeping with his sexy landlord instead of paying his rent. Obviously, now Eddie wants more NZT.
But when he goes to his friend's apartment to get it, he finds that someone has murdered him and ransacked the place. After briefly freaking out and calling the cops, Eddie finds his dealer's stash plus a hefty stack of hundred dollar bills and just NZTs out. He starts talking his way into elite NYC parties and befriending influential people. He learns a dozen languages in a week and starts hanging out with international supermodels in the French Riviera. He picks random fights with gangs of strangers because now he can remember every move he's ever seen in a Bruce Lee movie. He also begins day trading, and turns a couple thousand dollars into millions within a week, attracting the attention of a one Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), stock market overlord and captain of industry, who puts Eddie on his payroll, and allows him to take the reins on a monumental hostile takeover.
And that's when the side effects start kicking in. Eddie grows more physically dependent on the drug and starts experiencing lost time during which he may or may not have committed grisly crimes, while shadowy figures are trailing him and threatening his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish, because Hollywood's still trying to make that happen). Eventually this all comes to a climax in the aforementioned loan shark blood scene (and it is awesome -- the Statham himself would be jealous of that scene), and Eddie finds out what he's made of. I won't ruin it, but let me just say the movie doesn't exactly have the ending you think it will, and for a movie that is not trying to make you think about anything at all, it's perfect.
Limitless isn't trying to raise any questions about the corruptive nature of power, or America's dependence on pharmaceuticals, or the concentration of wealth and authority in the hands of a few white dudes who are quite often evil and harmfully selfish. It doesn't even posit that maybe someone with an abundance of brilliance should try to do something helpful for his fellow man -- Eddie Morra could have cured cancer in a month if he'd tried, but why do that when you can impress half-naked Brazilian girls with your wit instead? It's honestly just predicated on this simple pitch: What if we took Bradley Cooper, made him so awesome, and then he conquered the entire world and kicked Robert De Niro's ass for a while? And for a movie as fun to watch as Limitless is, I don't really need much more than that.
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