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Limitless (Blu-ray Review)

15 Jul, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 7/19/11
Box Office $79.2 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language.
Stars Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel.

What if a pill could make you 10 times smarter? That’s the question posed by the film Limitless, based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.

Bradley Cooper stars as Eddie Mora, a struggling writer barely making ends meet. A chance encounter with his ex-brother-in-law puts him in possession of NZT-48, an experimental drug that lets people access those parts of their brains they usually don’t realize they’re using. The pill converts Eddie from meek loafer to confident genius and helps him finish his long-simmering novel within days.

He uses his newfound abilities to get laid and make money, turning $12,000 into $2 million in the stock market. This catches the attention of corporate bigwig Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who wants Eddie’s help in a potential merger that would create the most powerful energy company in the world. “I don’t have delusions of grandeur,” Eddie tells him. “I have an actual recipe for grandeur.”

Eddie soon realizes his gifts come at a steep price in the form of criminals who would kill to get their hands on the pills. The high stakes scare off his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish), and Eddie is implicated in a murder after a night of wild partying brought on by a side effect of NZT that causes memory loss (the shades of The Hangover are a little too close for this movie’s comfort).

Limitless is entertaining enough to keep your attention, but holds back its unconventional concept a bit by using some conventional thriller elements that don’t always pay off. Fortunately, Cooper’s usual on-screen panache is engaging enough to hold everything together, aided by the distinct visual style of director Neil Burger, who uses an array of special effects and camera tricks to convey mood. There’s much more to like here than not.

In addition to the ‘PG-13’ theatrical version, the DVD and Blu-ray include an unrated cut (equivalent to a soft ‘R’) that runs about 50 seconds longer, with some sex and violence added back in.

The disc also includes an alternate ending, which is pretty much just a shorter ending than what’s in the film; a four-and-a-half minute featurette about Cooper’s role and crafting the different facets of the Eddie character; and a generally uninspired commentary from Burger.

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