March 24, 2011


More articles by »
Written by: Mitch Salem
Tags: , , , , , ,



Worth a ticket.


In movies, as in life, when someone is offered an illicit miracle drug that seems too good to be true, it usually is. So the general narrative arc of LIMITLESS doesn’t come as a huge surprise. What is surprising is that Neil Burger’s film, predicted to be the highest opener this weekend, manages to be enjoyable, if more than a little silly, fun.


Our hero is Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper, in his first real leading role), who might as well have a huge “L” stenciled on his forehead. He’s an aspiring writer who can’t make himself actually write, a slob, a drinker, and he’s already failed at marriage and is about to ruin his longterm relationship with the lovely Lindy (Abbie Cornish). Then one fateful day his ex-brother-in-law and sometime drug dealer (Johnny Whitworth) offers him a clear pill that will change his life. In 30 seconds, Eddie is using 100% of his brain’s capacity: finishing his novel is a snap, learning languages no challenge, and mastering the intricacies of high finance his new calling. He becomes an advisor to one of the world’s richest men, the wonderfully named Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro), on a giant merger… and that’s when things start to go bad. Like Cliff Robertson’s title character in Charly, Eddie finds out that drug therapy can’t solve everything. But unlike that kind of moralistic fable, Leslie’s Dixon’s script (based on Alan Glynn’s novel “The Dark Fields”) is bracingly dry and cynical, with plenty of gratuitously effective violence–it becomes the PG-13 equivalent of a Crank movie–and scheming that starts with double-crosses and mounts from there.

Burger’s previous films Interview With the Assassin, The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones, with their relatively indie sensibilities, didn’t suggest how goofily effective a commercial moviemaker he could be, and Cooper has the movie-star knack of keeping his charisma on display even while his character is being dragged progressively down. DeNiro has relatively little to do, but it’s a relief not to see him in a Focker movie, and Abbie Cornish and Anna Friel are good as the women in Eddie’s life. Worthy of particular note is Andrew Howard, who takes the incredibly cliched role of an evil Eastern European gangster and manages to do something amusing wth it; it’s like he’d wandered in from a Guy Ritchie picture. The title may be a bit overstated, but this is a picture that successfully exceeds its seeming limits.


(LIMITLESS – Relatvity – 104 min. – Director: Neil Burger – Script: Leslie Dixon (based on Alan Glynn’s novel) – Cast: Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel – Wide Release)

–Mitch Salem

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."