Human beings only use twenty percent of their brain capacity. Limitless ponders on what would happen if they were to have access to the other eighty. Cue Eddie (Bradley Cooper), a dishevelled, alcoholic and recently dumped author suffering from writer’s block who stumbles upon a brain enhancing drug called NZT. Once ingested, his life picks up at the speed of light and Eddie becomes a force to be reckoned with. His brain prowess is limitless and swiftly projects him to the very top as a jet setting financial guru. Now the center of attention, Eddie’s sudden success makes of him a commodity and a target for the powerful and the greedy.

Consider “Limitless” the offspring of “Wall Street” and “Strange Days”, were they to mate, without the latter’s relevance and the former’s charismatic performances. Although Cooper, despite his awkward voice-over narrations, ably carries this movie with infectious enthusiasm and oozing charisma, the same cannot be said of his supporting cast. Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon, a part not unlike “Wall Street”’s infamous antagonist Gordon Gekko, pales in comparison to Michael Douglas as he shamelessly sleepwalks through his lines, and Abbie Cornish, the proverbial love interest, is like a fish out of water. In fact if it weren’t for Andrew Howard’s sadistic Eastern European lone shark, Cooper would have no support at all.

The human brain remains the most complex organ in the human body and one of the last mysteries of modern science. Consequently, “Limitless”’ premise is appealing. Its treatment, however, is archetypal at best. “Limitless” is yet another movie that mistakes its premise for its plot. The storytelling is sporadic and ill-defined, an amalgam of nothing but unresolved subplots, leaving the audience yearning in vain for a main plot to surface. The focus of the story shifts aimlessly from subplot to subplot, desperate to give itself a purpose and consequently, lacks a beginning a middle and an end. As a result, “Limitless” is only a mere shadow of the film it aspires to be.

Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”) does his best directing from a screenplay plagued with unresolved subplots. His use of CGI is imaginative and expressionistic, bordering on psychedelic, and is ultimately Limitless’ only redeeming factor. Burger, along with an army of visual effects technicians, manages to revolutionize the Droste effect quite effectively, resulting in a stunning and dizzying opening sequence, that triggers the audience’s senses like very few visual effects can, thus making the opening sequence the movie’s highlight and quite frankly, the only genuine reason to catch this flick in theatres.

Review by Ralph Arida