I never thought I’d see a movie where Bradley Cooper gives a far better performance than Robert De Niro. Not to say Cooper’s good in Limitless—the film is mildly amusing, sort of an amped up episode of “House,” mixed with Love Potion No. 9 and Flowers for Algernon, but Cooper’s still a lot better than De Niro.
Leslie Dixon’s script has a lot of strong points (one wonders if the weaker details are from the source novel). If Limitless were a little smarter, working to alienate instead of embrace, it would be even better. The real problem—besides De Niro being awful and Cooper being weak—is director Burger. He has two modes. One is bad handheld digital video and the other is bad, digitally enhanced digital video. It’s horrific at times.
Oh, wait, I forgot the photography—when Cooper’s got his super mental powers (which include his eyes getting bluer)—is important. It’s high contrast when Cooper’s in super-mode. Actually, I suppose Jo Willems’s photography is good, doing what Burger asks of it. It’s just a stupid request.
Abbie Cornish is weak as Cooper’s love interest, as is Andrew Howard as his nemesis. Anna Friel barely has any lines but she’s decent; Tomas Arana has none and he gives the film’s best performance.
One of the funnier problems is how Cooper’s a handsome guy made scuzzy for when he’s dumb. If they’d reversed it, it would’ve been much better.
But lots of changes would’ve made it better.
Directed by Neil Burger; screenplay by Leslie Dixon, based on a novel by Alan Glynn; director of photography, Jo Willems; edited by Tracy Adams and Naomi Geraghty; music by Paul Leonard-Morgan; production designer, Patrizia von Brandenstein; produced by Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh and Scott Kroopf; released by Relativity Media.
Starring Bradley Cooper (Eddie Morra), Robert De Niro (Carl Van Loon), Abbie Cornish (Lindy), Andrew Howard (Gennady), Anna Friel (Melissa), Johnny Whitworth (Vernon), Tomas Arana (Man in Tan Coat), Robert John Burke (Pierce), Darren Goldstein (Kevin Doyle), Ned Eisenberg (Morris Brandt), T.V. Carpio (Valerie), Richard Bekins (Hank Atwood) and Patricia Kalember (Mrs. Atwood).