How to get what you want without ever trying too hard? It’s the question on everyone’s mind in these times of quick fix solutions, instant deliveries and compare ze meerkats. And one washed out writer Eddie Morra (an excellent Bradley Cooper), often ironically pronounced moron, finds an answer in this brazenly cool sci-fi thriller that makes a mockery of every rule and belief we live by.
Dumped by his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish), failing to meet his book contract deadlines, and with his head equally as unkempt and dishevelled as his apartment, Morra needs a new source of inspiration. ‘Fortunately’ a chance encounter with his ex-wife’s (Anna Friel) brother opens his mind to the mentally exponential possibilities of ‘NZT’. A new smart drug that flicks the brain switch to the full 100% horsepower setting, allowing its user to learn anything, get anywhere and seemingly become anyone.
What ensues is Morra’s quite remarkable rise to the highest echelons of social and economic glitterati. Bumping shoulders with the immensely powerful Carl Van Loon (a best for a long time Robert De Niro) and brokering the most significant merger in corporate history. It moves at a breakneck pace but always succeeds in bringing you along for the ride.
Director Neil Burger maintains a pure, unadulterated, adrenalin-heavy adaptation of Alan Glynn’s source novel ‘The Dark Fields’ that’s light on moral culpability but that never fails to be less than immensely fun. And there’s a sense that Burger’s having a pretty grand time as well. Even utilising Enter the Void style surreal, hallucinogenic cinematography to portray some pretty bad trips as the mental overdrive begins to take its toll.
What’s refreshing though is, quite ironically, the film’s brains. Morra doesn’t get to the top by cracking skulls and taking names. This is no big muscles and big guns fare that overpopulates the blockbuster landscape. Morra’s nefariously bestowed intellectual superpowers put him mentally and cinematically head and shoulders above his brutish brothers in the enjoyment stakes. And the exchange of a protagonist rising to the top through mental agility is a smart and much more novel reversal.
There are issues that permeate the movie, particularly identity, meritocracy and addiction but it’s as much fun to let it just wash over you. It’s a slick satirical thriller for the ipod generation and it’s every bit as wonderfully open about its brainless intentions as it is about it brainiac protagonist.
There’s a questionable message when you make addiction look this good but who cares when it also looks this cool. Relentless fun!
Limitless is out on DVD and Blu-ray on the 1st August.