Post-modern consumers are all about the quick-fix: lose weight instantly, bulk up immediately, six hours of energy drinks available in the time it takes to drink a shot. Life is moving at a much faster pace now and we need supplements that will aid that. There is no time left for those who can't keep up. Which brings us to the central character of Limitless, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper). His girlfriend, Lindy, is moving up in the world and Eddie's life is stuck in stasis as of the moment. She loves him, but he has to make drastic changes though they are slow to come. The novel that has languished unfinished on his laptop sees no signs of being completed. Eddie is watching his future run out.
A chance encounter with his former brother-in-law leaves Eddie an opportunity to change everything. A tiny pill called NZT has provided him with everything he needs. Initially, Eddie is hesitant, his brother-in-law was always a screw-up how could that have changed? There is only one way to find out and down the hatch it goes.
Soon, Eddie finds out NZT can not only make you smarter, but a more perfect being. The novel that had plagued him for months is finished in a matter of hours. Problems are solved without delay, philosophies dissected easily, maneuvering the treacherous stock market is now like child's play. Eddie Morra has everyone's attention now, he's hailed as the next modern-day Michelangelo, even mega-tycoon Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) has taken an interest.
By the time Limitless builds up the benign problem Eddie encounters into a dramatic conflict, the audience questions why small things weren't solved by the world's smartest man. Remember to pay the loan shark, keep your supply of pills flowing, don't lose face in front of Van Loon. These things are easy enough to remember even for those of us who aren't geniuses.
Neil Burger conveys what the world may look like to an accelerated being and he does so very well. When Eddie is at his highest the screen glows with a golden aura and when he isn't the dirt and grime of New York City is all too apparent.
Limitless does a lot of things well, but the film never builds upon the intriguing premise of "should you take a pill that makes you smarter?" Bradley Cooper is given a chance to excel outside of the bro-roles that he has played so often and he doesn't disappoint. His challenges with living and (perhaps) dying by NZT are a great deal of fun even if Limitless doesn't soar to the heights that Eddie does.