The idea itself is rather limitless and as the story unfolds you do start thinking about all the possibilities that this plot idea brings, and the film handles this so well because the possibilities are indeed endless, but the story doesn't get distracted.
Limitless comes from the novel by Alan Glynn, adapted by Leslie Dixon who has a list of rather strong scripts behind her, The Thomas Crown Affair remake, Pay it Forward and Hairspray. The film is directed by Neil Burger and stars a strong cast of Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard and Anna Friel.
Then he meets his ex-brother in law, a man who was once a drug dealer but now seems to have cleaned up his act and is working for a pharmaceutical company, a company that has produced a new drug that he has samples of with him and for some reason he offers Morra one such sample.
Morra is reluctant, but then he hears what it could offer him, the chance to create new connections in his mind, to make his brain use a hundred percent of his capacity, and with nothing left to lose he takes it.
Within minutes he's just beginning to see what he could realise. Everything he sees is at his disposal, he's making connections that he's never made before, he can analyse patterns and process information at an alarming rate, and the possibilities are, well you know where the saying goes by now.
While at first he enjoys his new found ability to have fun and make easy money, he has an epiphany and realises what he has to do. Now he has a real plan, a long term plan.
Limitless has a great idea behind the story, but the strength is really how it's developed with the main character. The idea alone that a drug could open up the full use of the brain is interesting but there's so much scope there for where the story could go, and that's also a pitfall for it, as it could so easily get lost in the possibilities and lose focus on the main plot and the characters.
Limitless doesn't do that, and that's one of its main strengths. It keeps it very focused on this one man's story and his idea of what to do with the drug, something that isn't very clear until much later on in the film and is a nicely thought out idea, if not perfectly executed.
However because there is so much to cover in the story there is a lot left uncovered, particularly near the end when the story picks up and the plot threads race to a conclusion. The lawyer thread is hardly touched on at all and the ending feels like it could have had much more added to it, but it doesn't mean that it isn't satisfying or enjoyable. Yet there are a number of aspects which don't feel properly explored, but as I said there's a lot of scope to the story and there's a limited amount of time in Limitless.
There are a good few turns and twists to the story which really do deliver it into the thriller arena well, a story with some hints of a conspiracy altogether bigger than the main character that we're following, although his part in it and his mastery of it grows and grows.
Some of those well known thriller aspects work well but there are others that don't. For me some of the big reveal moments didn't pack the punch that I want from my thrillers, and seeing some of these reveals you know there's supposed to be more of a weight to them than you feel, but there's still a surprise in there.
What's also good is that it isn't all thriller, the film does have a light hearted element running through it, particularly in the main character, and while that might be part of the reason that the thriller elements aren't at the strongest, it does work well with the character as played so well by Bradley Cooper and the story.
It feels as though they capture the way the character would start to view others and the world around him through his new found, drug enhanced senses really well, and through the effects and style choices we get pulled into how the character is viewing situations and understanding them. At times the style and effects really do bring to life what's going on in the character's mind and give us a sense of what it would feel like to make some of these connections at speed or to lose time.
There's a great pace to the film that keeps you going from start to finish, there aren't many points where it lets up other than to let the tension out a little in order to push it on again. Perhaps the pace doesn't let up that much as a reflection of how the character's mind is working under the drug.
The story telling also works well at bringing together the different threads and taking us back to the point where the character is at the start of the film. The nice part about this is that there's much more to deliver after this point and it's far from the end.
Limitless is an enjoyable thriller with a good pace and still managing to capture a light hearted feel that, at times, will make you laugh. The thriller element is well done, and with a driving pace and some interesting turns to the story you'll not really know where the events are going or how they will turn out.
Some great filming techniques and styling to the film separate the moments where the character is using the drug from those that he isn't, as well as combining clever effects to bring it through to the audience his experience of the drug.
The film is well written and the character developments, the plot threads, and the way the story plays out are a cut above the normal Hollywood thriller, Neil Burger and Leslie Dixon have done a good job with the source material.
Limitless is a step above the average Hollywood action thriller, and Bradley Cooper is strong in the role playing well alongside an unusually (at least these days) good Robert De Niro and Abbie Cornish who delivers a good performance for her rather limited character.