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Ten Word or Less Review: Limited.  But good enough.

Limitless comes with the kind of wish fulfillment premise that many of us dream about as we slug it out in our daily grind.  What if by simply taking a pill, the fog, baggage and general malaise that hangs on our mind everyday would lift?  Our minds would expand in crystallizing new ways allowing us to think with complete clarity and unparalleled foresight.  Writing beautiful novels on the human condition would be kids stuff.  Becoming a stock market guru would be as simple as using a calculator.  Watching Bruce Lee movies would bestow us with everything we need to know about perfecting the martial arts.  This is the plot of Limitless, a star vehicle for Hangover’s Bradley Cooper, and while the potential to have a grand time with this fantasy scenario is there, the film itself only gets about half the mileage out of it that it should.

Cooper is Edward Morra, a so-called writer who spends most of his time looking for inspiration in his ceiling.  He’s unshaven, slovenly, in desperate need of a haircut and newly single.  His longtime girlfriend has finally bailed.  On an afternoon of hitting rock bottom Edward runs into a former, now spiffy looking, brother-in-law who sympathizes with his sluggishness.  Feeling generous, he gives Edward a little clear pill.  Ed takes it and that afternoon he nails his landlord’s hot daughter after helping her write a legal paper, cleans his apartment from top to bottom, writes 90 pages of his long gestating novel as if it were no more than a two ingredient meatloaf recipe and sees with total effortlessness how to reinvent his entire existence.  The next morning the clarity and the ideas go away.  Edward goes looking for more pills only to find his brother in law dead via bullet to the head.  Edward steals his stash of pills and begins the greatest life turn around in human history.

For a good stretch Limitless is ramped up, innovative fun.  Directed by Neil Burger, the story hums along on its premise like a well oiled machine, keeping the viewer locked in with its highly desirable fantasy scenario.  Watching a character the audience can relate to, or at least like, throw off the shackles of limitations and exceed at anything can be mesmerizing.  Cooper plays slovenly well but he’s an actor who seems pre-ordained to wear Armani suits and have a dazzling haircut in every part he plays and such is the case here.  His shift from slob to savant is obviously seamless.  Cooper is a watchable actor and this is a part tailor made for his kind of screen bravado/sleaziness though his persistent narration is a bit flat and uncalled for.

As good as things go for Edward, and Limitless itself, half way through as problems develop for Edward, so do problems develop for the movie.  Hiccups creep into his new found mental abilities.  He loses large amounts of time he can not account for and maybe even killed someone but can’t remember.  A rather rudimentary conspiracy plot starts to take over and before long the hum Limitless had going becomes a sputter.  For a story about a guy who can suddenly out think anyone Edward’s actions start to become poorly thought out.  The scope of the story also stays small.  It’s never a good thing when movies push past credibility but Limitless feels under imagined in some important areas.  It doesn’t completely deteriorate or become a chore to watch but the strong vibe it established during its first half doesn’t last.

Nagging problems aside Limitless is still enough of a good time waster to warrant a watch.  Though it had the potential to be more than okay it’s good enough by half.  Perhaps like Cooper’s character the creative minds behind it ran out of little clear pills to provide inspiration.  Regardless, it can easily stand above what passes for entertainment at the mutliplex on many a weekend.  Camp out with a mate on a Friday night and enjoy it for what its worth.


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