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'Limitless' entices viewers, showcases quality acting

As I entered the theater to see Limitless, directed by Neil Burger and starring Bradley Cooper, I was flooded with conflicting expectations. Typically, Cooper’s movies are enjoyable, but I feared this particular one would turn into the stereotypical action film after watching previews. Fortunately, I was wrong.

The film follows the life and interactions of Eddie Morra (Cooper), an author struggling to finish his new book. With scraggly hair, a filthy apartment and a failing relationship, Eddie appears to be an all-around deadbeat.

After an unexpected encounter with his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), who is involved in his fair share of sketchy activities, such as drug trafficking, Eddie divulges his troubles. Vernon is more than willing to help, offering a new drug, NZT-48, that will supposedly help him access the full capacity of his brain.

Although the drug allows imbibers to possess superhuman capabilities, including the ability to see the world clearly and access knowledge from any experience, they eventually become addicted to it.

Along with Eddie’s desire to finish his novel, he also finds motivation in his attempt to win back the heart of his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), who recently dumped him. Usually, the effects of NZT can be felt with one tablet, but as time progresses, one dosage is not enough, causing Eddie to increase his intake. As his dependency grows, so does the number of hitmen after him and the drug he possessed, resulting in high-speed action.

The true power of the drug is noticed when Eddie finishes his novel in about four days. After realizing the potential he now possesses, his next step is to participate in the stock market. Although Eddie is not experienced in this area, he makes around $2 million in one week by developing a formula to predict patterns.

Despite the astounding effects of NZT in the beginning, the audience starts to see the truly devastating toll on the character they have grown to know. With mass headaches, occasional blackouts and the necessity of protection from hitmen, Eddie attempts to go about normal life, but to bystanders there is nothing normal about him.

While he continues to climb the ladder of success in the business world, Eddie encounters Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). Although Eddie gains approval and social ranking with men and women alike, he soon realizes that tapering off NZT will save his life after an encounter with his ex-wife Melissa (Anna Friel).

In spite of the strong addiction to NZT, Eddie is forced to choose between the drug that had made him millions of dollars, or healthy relationships and a clear conscience. Although Lindy had been impressed by the “new Eddie’s” clean-cut appearance, nice apartment and steady job, her disappointment is evident when she finds out the cause. Eddie knows something has to change, or any hopes of life, instead of just existence, will be destroyed.

Although I had concerns before entering this movie, I was very impressed with almost every aspect of the film. The actors thoroughly portrayed the story line and the plot was well-developed. Along with the plot, I was struck by the quality of editing and cinematography, as evidenced by the nearly seamless transitions and use of camera angles.

As the camera races through the bustling streets of New York, the audience sees just a touch of the visual effects. Though it was difficult to always tell what was happening in the image, a well-known site would flash and, for a brief moment, bring some serenity to the scene. Throughout the movie, there are so many things going on simultaneously that it is easy to get distracted; granted, this may have been Burger’s intent to show how Eddie saw things when using the drug.

Despite the film’s phenomenal cinematography, I was initially disappointed in the unnecessary use of sexual content, such as showing Eddie in bed with several women. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that not only does this content develop the story, but it also provides a point from which the character can progress.

Instead of feeling uncomfortable, this content really drives home how devastating the effects of drugs can be. In addition, although there is sexual content, the camera only alludes to it, allowing the mind to fill in the blanks.

Once again, I was impressed with Cooper’s performance, especially with his ability to draw viewers into the story. Due to Eddie’s transformation, Cooper was faced with two completely different characters to portray, but as always, a great performance was given with ease. De Niro also gave a stand-out performance as a power-thirsty investor, but this was to be expected because of the actor’s talent demonstrated in previous films.

Throughout the film, I must say I became engrossed in the story, joining in the audience’s slight gasps as relationships between characters were revealed. As Eddie drew people into his addiction, the story lured me to itself. It was so easy to connect with the story because of its realistic qualities, even though I could never imagine partaking in most activities that the characters do.

Despite my initially low expectation, I was pleasantly surprised with the enticing story line, cinematography and quality acting of Limitless. While some content may not be appropriate for younger audiences, I think is a must-see for anyone looking for a good story showcasing a little bit of every genre.

Limitless, rated PG-13 for thematic material, violence, sexuality and language, is playing in most local theaters. For tickets and showtimes, visit Fandango.

For more movie reviews, read the March 21 article, ‘Rango’ showcases emotional journey, relatable themes.

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  • A

    Austin RurikSep 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Such. An. Awesome. Game!

  • A

    Annalise RosikSep 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    For me, sports are only interesting when the game is close. Because they had only a few opportunities to win the game it made baseball actually exciting… good job, guys!

  • T

    Trevor YorkSep 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    This picture is awesome because it reminds me of playing a great game. Our team had some bad moments in that game but we also came back strong offensively. I can say that there is nothing like hitting a game winning hit; the feeling is amazing. Great job, everybody!

  • B

    Brooke StobbeSep 7, 2011 at 12:02 am

    The game was so awesome; I actually enjoyed it! Great job, guys!