Home > Movie Reviews > “I was blind, but now I see.” – on questions that should have been raised in “Limitless”

“I was blind, but now I see.” – on questions that should have been raised in “Limitless”

Everyone has heard the myth about how people only use 10% of their brain.  And everyone who has heard the myth has immediately wondered what could happen if more of that potential was tapped into.  “Limitless” is the most recent Hollywood exploration of this concept, and while scientifically laughable, provides an interesting, entertaining ride.  Bradley Cooper plays the main character, Eddie, who chances upon this miracle drug, NZT, through his ex-wife’s brother.  He embarks on a manic journey to turn his life around, from a broke, unemployed, single writer to a rising, genius, multi-millionaire.  This is the most fun of the movie – watching Eddie finally cut his hair, buy new clothes, and shoot up to fame and fortune.

Along the way, it becomes clear that nothing is without its drawbacks – NZT causes Cooper to have blackout-like experiences, where he is constantly active with no sense of time.  It also causes migraines, inability to concentrate, and eventually, death.  Cooper’s girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) takes the drug on one occasion, and she claims that “it changes you,” that it makes you into a different person.  I think this is one of the most interesting ideas of the movie, and wish it had been expounded upon.

Lindy breaks up with Cooper because of his addiction to NZT, and refuses to have more to do with NZT, contrary to most of the other characters in the movie, who, once they get a dose of NZT, can’t seem to get enough.  There’s a Russian gangster, a powerful businessman, and there are many other people who are hinted to be on NZT.  (In an interesting aside, the only other person who quits NZT in the movie is Melissa, Cooper’s ex-wife.  She’s portrayed as a down, exhausted-looking, burned-out sort of character, no longer beautiful or active or intelligent.  I wonder if this is mere coincidence, that the characters who give up NZT are women, while the ones who fight and kill for it are all men.)

By the end, things seem to have spun out of control.  Too many characters get involved in Cooper’s story, and while he’s trying to balance everything in his life, the movie’s trying to balance all the stories.  It’s a rather sloppy ending to an otherwise interesting premise; the writers of the movie become too distracted in all the betrayals and fights that must be crammed in before the end of the movie.  You know that moment when you’re watching a TV show, and it’s already 9:50, and you know it’s going to be a rush to wrap up everything the episode’s trying to address?  That’s what the end of “Limitless” feels like.

Overall, 3/5 – I would have liked the movie much more if there were fewer characters and more time were spent focusing on the changes NZT makes to a person, on a deeper level than simply making them more intelligent.  What are the ramifications of a perfect memory, or lightning jumps of logic and understanding?  Why were some characters able to resist the pill, whereas others used it until it led to their graves?  These are all far more interesting ideas to explore than who kills who.

Best regards,


See also: Orion’s review (4/5)

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  1. December 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm

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