Neil Burger’s mediocre thriller never goes beyond the limits



Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish
Time Out rating:

Wunderkind financier Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper, perfectly cast) is on top of the world – unfortunately, not in a good way. He’s standing on a ledge outside his penthouse apartment with two choices: face the angry Russian mobsters pounding at the door behind him or splatter himself on the Manhattan street below. It’s the kind of situation that inspires feature-length, voiceover-heavy contemplation: How did he get here? Turns out that, a few months ago, Eddie wasn’t that different from all the other struggling schlubs who amble through life with stringy hair, couch-potato routines and books-in-perpetual-progress. But after a fateful encounter with his ex-brother-in-law, he comes into possession of a pill that unlocks the dormant corners of his brain (average humans, we’re told, use only 20 percent).

All Eddie has to do is pop one a day. Soon enough, that long-delayed book gets done, fluency in foreign languages – and the language of l-o-o-o-ve – is a snap, and a high-powered Wall Street type (Robert De Niro) hires our now perfectly coiffed protagonist to broker a high-stakes merger. But what about those pounding headaches? Or the increasingly apparent loss of time? For a while, director Neil Burger seems to be treating Eddie’s story as a cautionary fable, especially in the heightened way he films the character’s enhanced state of mind. These sequences, with their lustrous, glinty-golden hues, seem like an intentional parody of Hollywood slickness, and the director makes superb use throughout of Gotham locales. But as we work our way back to that cliff-hanger of an opening, it becomes clear that the movie is no acid critique, but a hollow endorsement of high living. Guess every generation gets its Boiler Room.

Limitless opens at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills on October 1

By Keith Uhlich
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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