Review: Limitless DVD

Limitless DVD boxSTUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Neil Burger | CAST: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abby Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel
7/19/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $29.99
BONUSES: unrated extended cut, commentary, featurettes, alternate ending
PG-13 | 105 min. | Science-fiction thriller | 1.77:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


Raging Bull meets Hunky Brad: Robert De Niro (l.) and Bradley Cooper star in the thriller Limitless.

A provocative original thriller with noir-ish overtones, Limitless is inventive, smartly written and well-acted, and it marks another bound up the ladder for leading man acceptance by The Hangover star Bradley Cooper.

In the film, Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a down-on-his-luck writer who can’t finish his book and gets dumped by girlfriend Lindy (Abby Cornish, Sucker Punch). Then he’s introduced to a street drug called NZT, a powerful pill that enables Eddie to use 100% of his brain power. Soon, he’s finishing his book in no time and using his new-found knowledge to become a Wall Street wizard and attracts the attention of a powerful tycoon (Robert De Niro, Meet the Parents). But the drug has some dangerous side effects, and Eddie’s desire to procure more of it puts him in harm’s way with a number of people.

Adapted by screenwriter Leslie Dixon (1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair) from Alan Glynn’s novel The Dark Fields, Limitless’ themes allow director Neil Burger (The Illusionist) the chance to utilize some attention-getting visual touches in telling the story. He uses psychedelic special effects to show how Eddie’s mind works under the influence of the drug and gets the most out of the expansive location work (with Philadelphia, remarkably, doubling for Manhattan for most of the movie).

Cooper (who signed onto the movie after Shia LeBouf dropped out) is highly watchable whether he’s playing downtrodden, likable, sleazy, conniving or brilliant — all of which his ever-changing Eddie role dictates.

The major flaw of Limitless, however, is its final reel, which rushes to an upbeat conclusion, leaving the movie’s plotlines floating in the air. It appears to have been decided upon by market research polls and doesn’t ring true to the moodiness of much of the film and its characters. This sells short the ambitious efforts provided by Burger, Dixon, Cooper and company.

Thankfully, the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film provide an alternative ending that actually works better by leaving the denouement more open-ended.

Other extras include a trailer and a pair of brief featurettes: one centering on the making of the film (10 minutes) and another examining Cooper and his career (5 minutes). The best bet for fans who want to know more about the film is the audio commentary from helmer Burger, which is insightful and entertaining.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.