Problem is, Limitless can’t decide if it’s a morality play about Morra gaining these abilities at the price of his humanity or if he’s just a protagonist overcoming a variety of increasingly ridiculous obstacles.
The least coherent character in the film is his on-again, off-again girlfriend Lindy, (Abbie Cornish) who dumps Eddie for being a do-nothing slacker then finds him attractive once he starts taking NZT- 48 (the mystery drug), then dumps him when she finds his newfound attitude is drug-based. A distinctly post-modern conscience.
There are an astonishing number of plot holes in Limitless too. Eddie’s former brother-in-law Vernon ( Johnny Whitworth) offers him a new miracle drug “that costs $800 a pill.” When he finds Vernon murdered (by whom?) Eddie calls the cops, then frantically flips Vernon’s luxury apartment to find his stash.
Problem is, the one bag of pills he finds somehow spawns at least two bags more during the film. At $800 a pill.
Then there’s the ultimate in stupid storylines with Eddie realizing that his new found cognitive abilities would let him quickly profit through stocks. But his $2,000 isn’t enough, so he goes to thuggish Slavic loan-shark Gennady (Andrew Howard) to borrow $100,000. Um, what? Why on Earth would Eddie do that? When he quickly turns the borrowed money into a portfolio worth $2.5 million, why wouldn’t he promptly withdraw $100,000 plus interest and pay Gennady back?
The worst misuse of an actor in a leading role, how ever, goes to Robert De Niro, who plays the high-powered Wall Street investment expert Carl Van Loon. Van Loon is feared by everyone because of his tough business approach. The perfect foil for genius slacker Eddie Morra? In fact, it’s inexplicable why Van Loon would be interested in Morra at all, even with his newly found excellent analytic skills. In fact, at one point Van Loon has a scathing warning for Eddie in which he explains that it’s time, it’s experience, it’s being in the trenches that makes someone a real player.
One more kvetch: The central scene where Gennady and his thugs attack Morra in his $8.5 million secure apartment is ludicrous. If you paid that much for an apartment with steel doors and a safe room, wouldn’t it also have security at the front door and security personnel who would prevent such obvious street toughs from showing up?
Limitless had a lot of potential, and Bradley Cooper has an everyman charisma that made him a pleasure to see on screen. I can’t say the same about Abbie Cornish, who turned in a terrible performance as Lindy. What really ruined the film, however, wasn’t the acting but the endless stream of implausible plot twists and ultimately unsatisfying ending. This might be a good popcorn thriller at home, but I’d recommend you save the price of a theater ticket.