‘Limitless’ dialogue has limited appeal

By Skylar Wilcox

If you believe the plot of “Limitless,” success is fast cars, supermodels and expensive suits straight out of a Rick Ross video. “Limitless”

Directed by Neil Burger

Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro


If you believe the plot of “Limitless,” success is fast cars, supermodels and expensive suits straight out of a Rick Ross video.

The movie follows New Yorker Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) as he rapidly ascends from filthy, uninspired writer to millionaire financier.

The story begins with Morra behind deadline on his book with not a single word written. His girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), promptly breaks up with him and the audience learns that Morra also has a broken marriage in his past.

Walking the streets contemplating his situation — unemployed and single, the ultimate Hollywood nightmare — Morra runs into his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth). Vernon, a former drug dealer, is now a pharmaceutical marketer, one of the movie’s many satirical jabs which, disappointingly, never develops into social commentary. Vernon learns of Morra’s writer’s block and gives him a mystery pill called NZT, which he says can cure all his problems.

Indeed it does. When Morra pops the pill, he experiences an immediate burst of mental capacity. He cranks out his book in a matter of days, becomes fluent in several languages, composes music, starts drinking Smartwater and can recall any concept from memory instantaneously. After a brief wardrobe change and a haircut, Lindy falls back into his arms. But she disappears just as quickly — she is rarely seen on the screen again and never stops Morra from having casual sex with supermodels.

Morra’s newfound wit and immense memory catapult him into elite social circles, impressing attractive people at those extravagant parties commonly seen in liquor ads. His instant recitation of literature is used primarily for impressing women into bed with him. Morra shows no hesitation in using his “powers” for his own self-advancement. Instead of bettering mankind, Morra goes to work for Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a financial tycoon, conjuring millions with his ability to predict stock prices.

“Limitless” misses an excellent opportunity to call this vain and soulless lifestyle into question. Morra becomes completely absorbed in his extravagant lifestyle, forgetting any of his past struggles, not seeing the gift of NZT as anything more than his ticket to money and power.

Instead of mixing in some smart writing to match Morra’s intelligence, the screenwriters were keen to pump up the script with action movie cliches. There are Russian mobsters, Wall Street crooks and several random murders. Morra is pursued by a mysterious man in a trench coat and there is a spattering of terrible and completely unnecessary fight scenes. Just when the plot holes are about to engulf the last bits of the film’s believability, they are plastered over with an inexcusable cut to “Six Months Later.”

The writing is dumbed down, but the rest of the production crew must have been on NZT. The cinematography is excellent, capturing the transition from average Morra to superhuman Morra with blooming saturation and tight camera angles panning at the incredible pace of his enhanced mind.

Cooper retains just enough of the pre-NZT Morra to remind us that there is a human under all that success. De Niro is unremarkable and steals too much plot and screen time from Lindy, who is completely forgotten as Morra’s romantic partner or moral compass.

At a time when financial woes drive many to the theater to escape, it is sad that “Limitless” follows the line that the rich and powerful are that way because they deserve it. After making his first million speculating on stocks Morra wonders, “How many other corporations have been founded on NZT?” And who are we to question the lifestyles of the rich and famous? They are superhuman.