Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard
Directed by: Neil Burger
Written by: Leslie Dixon (screenplay), Alan Glynn (novel)
Runtime: 105 min
Release Date: 7/19/2011 (Blu-Ray)
HTS Overall Score:88
Eddie Mora (Cooper) is a troubled writer living in New York, failing miserably at every task he endeavors to complete. Despite his natural intelligence, Eddie has a world class case of writer’s block and can’t write even a single word in his book. Eddie appears to be in worse shape than most homeless people, with tattered clothing, greasy hair in a sloppy ponytail and little to no motivation to do anything about it. When Eddie’s girlfriend Lindy (Cornish) breaks up with him he finds himself losing hope as time is running out on his upcoming book deadline.
When Eddie bumps into his former brother-in-law on the sidewalk, he only agrees to talk because of the free drink he’ll get out of it. What Vernon has to offer is a small pill the size of a headphone jack, completely translucent that he calls NZT-48, a drug that isn’t on the market yet. A drug capable of making a good for nothing bum like Eddie into a playboy millionaire. What Eddie doesn’t know is how powerful the people who want more NZT are, and what they will do to get it.
Limitless takes an intriguing concept and builds a fantastic thriller that is a frenetic, and at times confusing take on what life must be like for a super genius on the run. Cooper does a great job portraying the calm, collected and charming Eddie who is in control of the world around him. Though the film tends to be a bit disorganized in the story telling – this seems to fit with the experience Eddie has on NZT. The ride from start to finish is extremely compelling and comes as close to “edge of your seat” as one can ask for. Despite a few flaws, Limitless is a highly enjoyable film with excellent acting from a great cast and plenty of suspense and thrills. Recommended.
Limitless comes to Blu-Ray with a highly stylized visual presentation that is very well presented by the 1080p AVC encode. The film features very dynamic color timing depending on Eddie's mental state; when Eddie is himself and not taking NZT the world has a drab, cool color palette with lots of grays, blues and muted color. When Eddie has taken NZT the film uses color to convey his heightened perception; colors shift to the warm end of the spectrum and focus on bright, vivid colors (especially Cooper's eyes), sepia and gold undertones and striking levels of contrast very similar to HDR photography at times. During the "NZT" scenes it also seems that a sharper focus was used which translates to the Blu-Ray splendidly, delivering staggering levels of high level detail from stubble to pores and flecks in the irises of Eddie's eyes. While there are a few minor quibbles with the video here, overall this is an impressive transfer. Ignoring a few minimal hints of jaggies or aliasing and moire in certain sequences the presentation as a whole is hard to fault.
The DTS-HD Master Audio mix that accompanies Limitless is very, very good. Similar to the video presentation, it appears that great care was taken to present greater sonic detail during "NZT sequences" - and the result is impressive use of the surrounds and mains as extremely minute atmospheric sounds are conveyed with stunning realism. The rustle of clothing and the chatter of people nearby in the streets of Manhattan really helps to convey just how heightened Eddie's perception of the world around him is while on NZT. Use of the LFE channel is appropriate but rarely aggressive, rather the bass in this film is used to convey the rush of blood through Eddie's veins, or a true action scene - but the levels and frequencies used are appropriate to the action on screen and don't do anything to distract the viewer from the story. Dialogue is produced with perfect clarity and timbre is accurate and un-touched throughout. This is a great example of audio and comes quite close to reference.
Though not particularly strong on the extra content, Limitless does feature a good list of HD extras including a slightly different alternate ending that some may find preferable to the theatrical version. The commentary from Director Neil Burger is also extremely interesting and features a lot more technical discussion about how he achieved some of the effects in the film that I found very enjoyable.
- A Man Without Limits (HD; 4:29) interviews with Cooper and members of the crew.
- Taking it to the Limit: The Making of Limitless (HD; 11:38) Interviews and factoids from the cast and crew.
- Alternate Ending (HD; 5:14) identical to the theatrical release until the last minute or so, worth watching.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD;2:25)
- Extended/Unrated (1:45:33) and Theatrical (1:44:46) cuts of the film.
- Audio Commentary by Director Neil Burger
Though the story of Limitless isn't quite as original as it could be, the film is still exceptionally gripping and kept me entertained from start to finish even on repeat viewings. Cooper's portrayal of the human and superhuman Eddie Mora is superbly acted. His ability to portray the charming and collected Eddie is what keeps the viewer entertained, imagining that perhaps he or she could possibly be that smart, good looking and charming on NZT. Despite a few cliche plot elements, Limitless is one of my favorite films of the year and is a great rental for family movie night. I would advice parents to make sure that children below of the age of 10 do not watch this as there is some content that is definitely aimed at mature audiences (threats of violence).
If you're looking for a popcorn flick that will let you escape for a few hours, or just want to live vicariously through Cooper's inspired portrayal of the immortal Eddie Mora, I highly suggest giving Limitless a watch. Recommended.