Then a chance meeting on
the street with a former in-law introduces him to a wild, new
experimental drug called NZT-48 that unlocks all of the brain’s synapses
to make you super-smart and super-productive before the effects wear

Suddenly, he’s not only on a creative spree, but making a fortune
playing the stock markets, winning back his editor girlfriend (an
underutilized Abbie Cornish, “Sucker Punch”) and even eating toast
points! Toast points! When Eddie is jacked on
NZT-48, director Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”) employs numerous, nifty
visual tricks to give audiences an approximation of his high.

But every high has a low. For Eddie, it’s when nefarious goons start
following him, as well as increased doses causing a wrinkle in time — a
skip — in which he does not recall going from Point A to Point B, asking
in the words of David Byrne, “Well, how did I get here?”

For the movie, it’s the introduction of a corporate bigwig (Robert De
Niro, who isn’t even trying) that makes viewers begin to sense a crash.
His character’s name is Van Loon, for chrissake — a far-from-subtle
touch that clashes against the first half’s shrewdness. De Niro’s
entrance and subsequent plot direction doesn’t derail “Limitless” — far
from it — but the sci-fi-infused thriller does lose a sizable amount of
forward momentum.

As slick as Cooper is charismatic, “Limitless” was a sleeper hit this
spring, emerging seemingly from nowhere, and its box-office success has
been attributed to audiences’ tighter embrace of its leading man.
There’s little doubt he’s now a star, and the appeal of the film really
rests on the favor he holds in your head. Few others could get away with
such a cocksure final line and not leave viewers steaming.

As fitting as the ending is, the Blu-ray includes a five-minute
alternate closer that the cover boasts “changes everything!” yet really
only changes a little, and proves less satisfying. —Rod

Rod Lott

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