Thursday, July 14, 2011

Limitless: Everything is possible when you open your mind

Limitless (thriller, mystery, sci-fi)
Directed by Neil Burger
Starring Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish

20th Century Fox | 2011 | 105 min | Rated PG-13 | Released Jul 19, 2011

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH, French, Spanish

Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Digital copy

The Film 4/5

Eddie Morra (Cooper) is a loser. He looks like he sleeps on the streets and his girlfriend is his main source of income while he struggles to write a novel. He lives in a seedy apartment and is more likely to be eating pizza and drinking alcohol than working on his book. His girlfriend (Cornish) finally decides it’s time to leave, but Eddie’s life is about to change for the better.

In a chance meeting with Vernon, the brother of his ex-wife, Eddie is offered a pill. He’s suspicious because Vernon was dealing drugs the last time the two met. After thinking about it, Eddie decides that life can’t get much worse and takes the pill. Within 30 seconds, he starts to feel different. The color palette changes from dull and muted to bright and clear and represents the change in Eddie. 

We are told that we use a fraction of our brain on a daily basis. The pill is supposed to enable us to use one hundred percent of our brain. Eddie finds that he can think clearly and work out solutions to difficult problems. He writes a book in four days without pausing to think how the plot should progress and his editor loves the result. We see him learn how to play piano and become fluent in the Italian language.

Eddie feels like he suddenly knows everything.

It’s interesting how a positive mental attitude can change your life. Instead of living like a slob, he cleans his apartment. Then he focuses on ways to use his intelligence to make enough money to permanently change his life. His new confident attitude attracts the girlfriend who dumped him. Eddie’s life is starting to look pretty good.

After making the news with a series of shrewd investments, Eddie attracts the attention of Carl Van Loon (De Niro). Van Loon is an ambitious businessman who craves money and power. He has no time to waste on losers, but gives Eddie a chance to impress. He reminds me of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Eddie’s main problem is securing a regular supply of pills. He also has to adapt to their effects and discover a way to moderate his reaction. Like any drug, there are side effects to deal with. I won’t reveal anything else, but the plot is more complicated than I have made it sound.

The movie is advertised as an action thriller and Rolling Stone describes it as a “Full-tilt adrenalin rush.” Although there some action scenes, I wouldn’t describe it as an adrenalin rush. There are chase scenes, but the focus is on Eddie’s fortunes and there’s always an element of mystery. I found it enjoyable because I wanted to see what would happen next, but I rarely found myself sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

The acting is good across the board. Cooper pulls off his role well. He’s serious when he has to be and whimsical in the lighter scenes. De Niro doesn’t get a great deal of screen time, but his scenes are memorable. Cornish is effective as Eddie’s girlfriend.

I found Limitless to be an enjoyable way to spend 105 minutes. There are two versions included on the Blu-ray; the theatrical and the unrated extended version. There is only a few seconds difference in running time between the two.

Video Quality 4.5/5
Limitless looks very good on Blu-ray. Detail is strong throughout, although we see more during scenes where Eddie is feeling the effects of the drug. Contrast and brightness are boosted during such scenes. Although the other scenes appear drab by comparison, there’s good detail and no problem with the transfer. Most viewers will be pleased with the look of the movie.

Audio Quality 4.5/5
The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is more than adequate. The action scenes are limited, but the track delivers when needed. Dialogue is crisp and clear and I didn’t detect any problems with the sound. The commentary track uses English: Dolby Digital 2.0.

Special Features 2.5/5

The additional features all appear in full HD.

Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger.

A Man without Limits (4:29)

Taking it to the Limit: the Making of Limitless (11:38) – It would have been nice to see a more extensive feature.

Alternate Ending (5:14) – I prefer the original ending, but it’s nice to see another possibility.

Digital copy

Theatrical Trailer (2:25)

Limitless has a few plot holes, but it works as a piece of entertainment. Cooper does a great job as Eddie and you’ll want to see him succeed. It’s hard to pin down the genre as it includes mystery, drama, action, sci-fi and comedy, but it’s more of a thriller than anything. I didn’t see the film in the theater, but I’m glad it found its way into my Blu-ray collection. It won’t change your life, but few people will regret seeing it.


  1. I've wanted to see this for a while (maybe just because of Bradley Cooper....) but I'm glad to hear that it's actually pretty entertaining! I'll have to redbox it some weekend.

  2. Cooper played his part well. I think you'll enjoy it. It won't change your life, but it's a reasonable way to spend 105 minutes.

  3. I loved it. The more I watch overrated movies from 2011 and end up disappointed, the more I think about how much I appreciated Limitless. Come to think of it, I might own it. It's a movie I could watch again and again. I think it's so appealing because of where it can take you. It allows you to dream of invincibility, which we have to admit is kind of cool. I agree with everything you wrote and I'm glad you liked it.

    1. It's not perfect, but I have watched it three or four times already. I like the idea. I like stories about geniuses. A couple of my favorites are Ender's Game (can't wait for the movie) and The Miles Vorkosigan book series. Thanks for the comment.