Review in a Hurry: Bradley Cooper gets more than a hangover after popping top-secret "smart drugs"—he also risks sickness and murder to keep expanding his mind. If you're jonesing for an addictive thriller, Limitless goes down easily and creates a contact high with zippy pacing and hypnotic visuals.
The Bigger Picture: Whoa—this paranoid-fueled actioner will have you cheering its hero for ingesting untested, toxic drugs. But that's a credit to the seduction of this hypothetical pill—and the charm Cooper exudes as the juicing brain junkie.
He plays Eddie Morra, a broke, heavy-drinking, badly coiffed, creatively blocked writer who gets dumped by his longtime girlfriend. But then his ex brother-in-law introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary black-market pharmaceutical that super-sizes Eddie's synapses and lets him tap his full potential.
With a beautiful mind, he can comprehend complex algorithms, learn a language in a day, recall everything he's ever read/seen/heard, and dazzle the pants—and panties—off anyone he meets. After making millions on Wall Street, amped Eddie also gets into bed (figuratively) with mega-mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who asks him to help broker a major corporate merger.
But Eddie must keep taking the little clear pill to maintain his brain boner and keep from getting ill—and getting killed. As his stash diminishes, mysterious stalkers, ruthless gangsters, and suspicious detectives start tracking him for information and the mysterious meds.
In the wrong hands, this high-concepty pic's mix of voiceover, flashbacks, color shifts, and CGI could have been a bummer trip. But Leslie Dixon's snappy adaptation of Alan Glynn's novel and Neil Burger's slick, fluid direction cook it into an irresistible rush.
Though not always limitless in imagination (snarling Russian goons; De Niro as another intimidating boss man), Limitless does deliver edgy thrills and dark laughs—even at the same time, as in its bloody tasty (literally) climax. Go on—shoot up!
The 180—a Second Opinion: Eddie supposedly has superhuman powers of deduction, but we mere mortals in the audience can guess a plot turn involving a dying power-player long before he does.