A gleeful celebration of nonstop doping, Limitless offers a dim Better Living Through Chemistry fantasy that refuses to rain on its own pill-popping parade. Struggling novelist Eddie (Bradley Cooper) acquires fame and fortune after he takes a magic tablet, dubbed NZT, that unlocks his brain's full potential. He is now a four-digit-IQ superman, and director Neil Burger mirrors his protagonist's newfound abilities with incessant cinematographic showing-off, using telescopic zooms, CG-enhanced temporal skips, and a cascade of letters falling around the newly inspired writer. Yet though this enthusiastic depiction of getting high would be an ideal means of parodying our narcotized age, Burger plays the material for straight thrills. And suspense is even rarer than NZT in Leslie Dixon's script (based on Alan Glynn's novel); as the plot eventually turns to Eddie's financial troubles with a thuggish loan shark (Andrew Howard) and a corporate titan (a sleepwalking Robert De Niro), threats to his safety are introduced via the very sort of nonsensical behavior from which he should be immune. Without a complex thought about narcissism, merit, or addiction, Limitless is content to be a one-note, satire-free fairy tale of avarice and corporate-political ambition—one that ultimately proves incapable of taking the nation's current post-economic-crisis pulse.
Cooper imbibes an ocean of knowledge.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., March 18. Rated PG-13. 107 minutes.