Success comes at a price when you want to be Limitless

Director Neil Burger’s visually stunning sci-fi thriller LIMITLESS journeys into Bradley Cooper’s mind and finds success can be dangerous.

LIMITLESS is a new sci-fi thriller that is also another smartly presented piece of work from director Neil Burger. I loved Burger’s 2006 movie The Illusionist and LIMITLESS is a similarly character-driven journey of reality and fantasy, very inventively shot and anchored by a terrific lead performance from Bradley Cooper, who is fast developing into an actor who makes really interesting choices.

Bradley Cooper as down-on-his-luck writer Eddie Morra in Limitless

Bradley Cooper as down-on-his-luck writer Eddie Morra

Screenwriter Leslie Dixon has adapted Alan Glynn’s 2001 fantasy novel The Dark Fields to tell us the story of Eddie Morra, a writer who’s down on his luck and barely keeping his life together when an old friend from his past introduces him to a pill that will allow him to use 100% of his brain capacity. In no time at all, Morra becomes a financial genius but in this almost fable-like story, success comes at a price. And in a movie that’s all about what’s going on behind the eyes, I was struck when reading another review of LIMITLESS recently, as it was commented that no one since Ralph Fiennes has had such striking eyes on film and Cooper’s are certainly used to tremendous effect here.

But believably playing both the down-at-heel, grungy guy we see at the start of the movie and the super-slick transformation that Morra becomes is no mean feat and Cooper pulls off this dual role with aplomb. Perhaps his executive producer credit on the movie is a sign that whilst this is a great vehicle for him, it’s also given him an opportunity to do something different. He’s had his comedy period with roles in films like Wedding Crashers and The Hangover (although I thought Phil Wenneck was a pretty conflicted dark character) and now its seems he’s opening up the image that’s been created of him recently – leading man/sex symbol, particularly highlighted in the recent remake of The A-Team – to explore more complex and questionable characters like Eddie in this film. Based on his work here, I look forward to seeing what other kinds of roles he chooses in future.

Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon with Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra in Limitless

Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon with Cooper form a business partnership

The rest of the cast is pretty stellar too. There’s the super-talented Abbie Cornish as Eddie’s girlfriend Lindy – making a mental note whilst watching that I must catch her in Jane Campion’s Bright Star as it’s supposed to be amazing. You also have the brilliant and almost unrecognisable Anna Friel as Eddie’s old flame, Melissa. And there’s a certain Mr Robert De Niro as Eddie’s newfound benefactor and potential nemesis Carl Van Loon. He has a great speech at one point that will stay with you – it’s all about earning what you acquire rather than thinking that it’s a gift.

“A gift, not earned. You do not know what I know because you have not earned those powers.”

It all adds up to a fantastical but fab way to see what might be possible in terms of existing in a very different mind-altered state before we know it.

Make sure you catch this.