Bradley Cooper is well cast as Eddie Morra who transforms himself from near-hobo status with the help of a magic pill. His metamorphosis from hopeless wannabe writer to Alpha Extraordinaire is a superlative fantasy for ahem, hopeless wannabe writers. Moving on swiftly... As I say, the casting is perfect. Cooper gives good ‘useless’ but also makes a pretty convincing Master of the Universe. (And that's in the Tom Wolfe sense. Not like y'know, He-Man.) This slobby loser runs into his ex-brother in law who gives him one of said pills. It gives him a fierce intelligence and superhuman awareness. Unsurprisingly, things improve for him on a stratospheric curve. It’s bombastic, ludicrous and extremely enjoyable.
With the central theme being a fictional drug, technically this is science fiction. However, it’s very much grounded in the present day and all of its brutal realities. (It has more than a few nasty surprises.) Drug sequences are so often cringey but director Neil Burger does a fine job. The visuals are exhilarating and seem to capture Eddie's state of mind. We are guided through the action with narration from Bradley Cooper. Voice-over is so often used as a lazy storytelling device but then again what would Apocalypse Now or Goodfellas be without it? We certainly wouldn’t have believed that that fat guy was a crack green beret and no one could ever have guessed the name of Jimmy Two Times. (OK, maybe one or two might have.) While nowhere near the heady heights of those two films, narration lends itself well to the non-stop-thrill-ride nature of Limitless.
Not only is it original, it’s smarter than your average popcorn flick. While the characters are a little superficial, the good performances help you to erm, not really mind. It also has a risqué lack of preachy messaging in regards to drug use.