Limitless contains the best, most cinematically confounding shot that I’ve seen so far this year. It’s so groovy, in fact, that director Neil Burger implores it a handful of times in order to keep the audience intrigued (which is helpful, because there ain’t a whole hell of a lot to keep one interested in a flick like this).
I don’t even know how to explain it. The cameras appears to zoom down the streets of Manhattan at an exceedingly heightened pace. It goes faster and faster, coasting down what appear to be dozens and dozens of blocks, without ever cutting away. It isn’t a time lapse (filming for 10 minutes then speeding the shot up in editing so it only lasts 10 seconds), and it isn’t being done with just one camera, but it is simply incredible to watch.
The shot is, undoubtedly, achieved with the use of special effects, but not to the point of distraction. The third time the shot occurred, I kept thinking, “Jesus, how are they doing that?” And then it hit me: HOW it is done isn’t important, that fact that it IS done is all that matters.
Moving past that, there isn’t much more to positively draw from this film. Bradley Cooper stars as a fumbling, worthless writer struggling along in a shitty apartment buried in Chinatown. Cooper’s Eddie Mora is plagued with crippling writer’s block, a God-awful mop of hair, a depressed attitude and a demeanor that's a slight step up from that of a homeless man.
That is until he runs into his former brother-in-law on the street, a high level dealer who supplies Eddie with a nifty new drug that opens up his brain to full capacity. Eddie pops the pill and it’s off to the races. He finishes his book in four days, reworks his look to GQ status, gets laid effortlessly, cracks the stock market, and vacations in tropical locales, all in the course of a week.
Before long, Eddie is being chased by a slew of bad guys who all want at his drug stash (yawn) while he juggles the biggest Wall Street merger of all time with his new boss, played to campy mediocrity by Robert De Niro (double yawn).
Look, Limitless has its moments. In addition to the shot I mentioned, Cooper does moderately well flexing his charm through a muddled script, and De Niro proves (if only in one scene) that he may still have a hint of the burrowing intensity that made him who he is. But the flick is wholly predictable and filled with roll-your-eyes moments of mania (a scene involving a little girl and an ice skate is particularly absurd). In short, limitless may accurately describe some of the characters’ means of acquiring knowledge, but as far as your attention span goes, the title couldn’t be further from the truth. D+