It's a thought we've all had at one point in our lives: what if the scruffy, down-on-his-luck sci-fi novelist who lives in the alley beside the train station was able to harness 100 percent of his entire brain power? Would that mean he would stop urinating in a Dixie cup and splashing it in my face whenever I ignored his aggressive panhandling? Would I get that flying car Popular Mechanics promised my back in 1954? Would we finally be able to watch an episode of Star Trek where Worf and Riker express their true feelings for each other?
"Limitless" asks this burning question and then answers it in the most mundane way possible. No folks, we don't get auto-aviation, Klingon slash fiction or a pee-free morning. What we get is two hours of a blue-eyed, too-pretty Bradley Cooper making lots of money, popping too many pills and generally doing his best impersonation of that guy at the high school reunion whose success makes the fat former prom queen down 98 reds and a bottle of wine.
The premise of "Limitless" is simple: take a pill, become a genius. The catch is, well, you have to keep scarfing down pills or you die. Oh, and the meds will kill you too, so it sucks to be you, Einstein. I guess Hollywood ran out of superhero franchises to reboot so they decided to entertain us with some sort of bastardized braniac vigilante who trades his tights for stock market manipulation. Have you ever attended a high school spelling bee? For more than 10 minutes? Then you are already dreadfully familiar with how boring it is to watching smart people be smart in front of an audience.
Director Neil Burger, apparently, never had that particular experience growing up, or if he did he felt he could distract us all from the tedium of academic achievement by casting Robert DeNiro as the token "starts out as a good guy but is really a bad guy" bad guy. Let's get this out of the way – DeNiro has become the Ben Stiller of drama, an actor so damaged by his participation in career-destroying schlock like "Meet the Fockers" that in order to take him seriously he'd have to be holding a syringe filled with HIV to your neck. "Limitless" isn't helping him restore any of that former glory by handing him a role that could have just as easily been played by the ghost of Michael Caine, or maybe that Rampage Jackson guy from the UFC if they could find a suit big enough.
Are there any highlights to "Limitless?" Oh yes, if your definition of the term is expansive enough to encompass Cooper drinking the blood of a Russian mobster off of the floor, a blind man firing bullets into a grand piano or a face being slashed open by a little girl's ice skates being used as a primitive bolero. I guess the shorter answer is "no."
I wish that my ticket to "Limitless" had come with a pill of its own, one that would have given me enough intelligence to not only build a fucking time machine that would whisk me back to twenty minutes before I got in line to pay for the damn movie, but one which would give me the wisdom to understand that even when Cooper is playing a genius, he's still a retard with a Ken Doll face whose entire career has been built on flashing a smile that won't take him past his 40's. Not everyone gets Paul Newman's genes, Bradley. Better start saving for a hyperbaric chamber.
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