Cooper plays a slacker writer with a crappy apartment, an ex-wife and soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. Like the rest of us he’s only using 20% of his brain, and often, not even that. His life changes when he begins taking a drug that allows him to access the other 80%. Suddenly he can learn languages in hours and can retrieve everything he has ever read, seen or thought about. His intellectual ability is, as the title says, limitless. Also limitless are the people who will do almost anything to lay their hands on the drug.
“Limitless” begins with a premise that would make Timothy Leary proud—drugs open up the mind, man—then becomes a Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” drama before winding down to an ambiguous ending. I wasn’t exactly expecting “Reefer Madness,” but I would have liked a clearer point of view.
This is, after all a drug movie. It’s a drug movie with a twist mind you, but at its heart it’s a movie about addiction and the effects of drug use. In this Charlie Sheen world there’s enough images of drug abuse out there for this one to be so noncommittal.
But that’s a quibble when the movie is as entertaining as “Limitless.” Despite the limits of the story it’s a whole lot of fun. The drug haze scenes are effective and the 18 hour blackout sequence is a tour de force, complete with Bruce Lee flashbacks. Neil Burger only oversteps when he tries to illustrate Cooper’s newfound intelligence. Letters falling from the ceiling while he is furiously writing. Really?
No matter, the movie is so adrenaline paced, the gimmicky scenes are over before they have much a chance to register. The movie is as jittery as the drug addicted lead character.
Cooper is in virtually every scene here and proves that he’s leading man enough to carry a movie, charming enough to keep us interested and has the chops to pull off the drama. I’m not sure I could have accepted him in a gritty drug movie like “Last Train to Brooklyn,” but as the upwardly mobile brainiac with an edge he’s perfectly cast.
“Limitless” will be a good gap filler for Cooper fans who are anxiously awaiting the release of “The Hangover 2” scheduled for this May.