Like The Adjustment Bureau and Source Code, science fiction is mashed with a bit of romance to create a lively, entertaining thriller in Limitless.
For Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), writer's block doesn't begin to describe his life, which is going nowhere fast. He hasn't written a word of an overdue novel, and he lives in a crummy Manhattan walkup.
His girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), tired of promises, dumps him.
A chance meeting with his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), turns him on to an experimental drug called NZT, which suddenly allows him to tap into previously neglected areas of his brain.
Magically, the wall blocking his creativity crumbles. Not only do words fly off the page, but numerous moneymaking schemes suddenly seem readily evident, as his brain absorbs information like a mop absorbs water. Learn a language overnight? No problem.
But no drug lasts, and Eddie needs more, which puts him at odds with others who want it. To get himself going, he makes a deal with a murderous Russian loan shark (Andrew Howard), and gets mixed up with a Wall Street shark with the crazy name of Van Loon (Robert De Niro).
Of course, before you take a drug, you have to read the fine print to see what the side effects are. Those side effects, along with Eddie's dealings, eventually catch up with him.
Director Neil Burger, whose previous works include The Illusionist, a stylish film with a mysterious edge, takes another tack, hyperkinetically reflecting Eddie's fevered, heightened state of mind. And like Eddie's mind, the film has a lot going on besides the obligatory action of a thriller.
There are barbs aimed at our need for speed and insatiable appetite for things. It also has more humor than you might expect. Not everything works, but Limitless zips by so enjoyably fast, you might not notice.
Limitless retails for $29.99 or $39.99 for Blu-ray and a digital copy.