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Neil Burger
Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth
Writing Credits:
Leslie Dixon, Alan Glynn (novel)

What if a pill could make you rich and powerful?

Bradley Cooper and two-time Academy-Award® winner Robert De Niro, star in this provocative and action-packed thriller with unlimited surprising twists. Eddie Morra (Cooper), a burnt-out writer, discovers a top-secret pill that unlocks 100% of his brain’s capacity. He instantly acquires mind-bending talents and mesmerizing visions that bring him big money, beautiful women and limitless success. But his dream life soon becomes a waking nightmare, as the drug’s brutal side effects take their toll and Eddie finds himself entangled with a cunning Wall Street power broker (DeNiro) who wants everything Eddie has ... and more.

Box Office:
$27 million.
Opening Weekend
$18.907 million on 2756 screens.
Domestic Gross
$79.174 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min. (Theatrical Version) / 105 min. (Unrated Extended Cut)
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 7/19/2011

• Both Theatrical and Unrated Cuts
• Audio Commentary with Director Neil Burger
• “A Man Without Limits” Featurette
• “Taking It to the Limit: The Making of Limitless” Featurette
• Alternate Ending
• Trailer
• Digital Copy
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Limitless (2011) [Blu-Ray]

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 18, 2011)

Though best-known for comedies like the two Hangover movies, Bradley Cooper showed he could carry something more dramatic via 2011’s Limitless. No, that film’s $79 gross didn’t approach the megabucks earned by the Hangover flicks, but it was a good take for a fairly low-budget effort that starred a guy without significant leading man cred.

After a quick introduction to a dangerous situation, we go into flashback mode to meet Eddie Morra (Cooper), a struggling writer with a serious block. He has a book contract but can’t come up with a word to put onto the printed page.

All this changes after a seemingly random encounter with Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth), his ex-brother-in-law. Vernon takes pity on the pathetic Eddie and slips him a pill he promises will let him access virtually all of his potential brainpower. Skeptical at first, Eddie decides he has nothing to lose and takes the tablet.

The medication delivers as promised. Eddie gets a surge of energy and creativity that allows him to snap out dozens of pages of his book in only a few hours – and he writes good material as well, so this impresses his editor.

Of course, this means Eddie wants more of the substance – called “NZT” - so he heads to Vernon’s apartment. Gant agrees to a barter agreement and makes Eddie his “Man Friday”. When Eddie heads out to get breakfast for Vernon, he returns to find his connection dead, a victim of parties who clearly also want the pills Eddie came to obtain – but who seem to have failed in that pursuit.

Eddie reports this to the police but decides he’d better find the drugs while he still can. He succeeds and then uses them for a total life makeover. Popping pills on a nearly constant basis, Eddie uses his talents for wealth, sex and general advancement – and he even manages to lure back his ex-girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish). All of this comes with a dark side, though, as Eddie starts to experience side effects – and also wonders what he’ll do when he runs out of the meds.

Given the subject matter, the potential area to explore in Limitless would seem to be… well, limitless. Essentially the movie posits itself as something like a real-life Matrix. We even get a scene in which Eddie finds himself in a brawl and he “downloads” fighting skills from his memory.

So with a nearly infinite palette upon which to paint, why does Limitless seem so ordinary? I don’t know, but its lack of creative zip hampers it. With a character who could do/be anything, we find him stuck in bland stories about Russian mobsters, corporate finance and accused murder. Sure, each of those threads creates some intrigue, but they all feel rather stilted and bland. They come across like elements from other movies, and the story doesn’t let its lead character do all that much to stand out as memorable.

Though Cooper gives it his best shot. Actually, it’s not a surprise that he can pull off Super-Powered Eddie, as he often plays suave, charming characters. It’s more refreshing to seem him left adrift as Schlub Eddie, the slob who can’t run his life effectively. Cooper manages to come across as a believable bozo in that incarnation, so it’s not like one of those movies where they slap glasses on a pretty girl and try to convince us she’s an ugly duckling. Cooper delivers a solid performance at all times and allows us to believe Eddie’s different facets.

Unfortunately, Cooper does so in service of a rather muddled movie, and one with a mix of plot flaws. The NZT side of things becomes the biggest obstacle, I think, as its existence and use by others creates more questions than answers. And why does Gant buddy up with Eddie, anyway? The plot never really explains why he’d care about his ex-in-law; I kept waiting for some sort of details to allow this to make sense, but they never occur, and a mix of other threads dangle as well.

All of this results in a movie with much potential excitement but few actual thrills. Limitless juggles enough balls to remain moderately interesting, but it doesn’t occupy our attention in a terribly strong manner. Instead, it muddles along and fails to develop well.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Limitless appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The transfer consistently seemed satisfying.

Sharpness was usually very good. A few wide shots looked a smidgen soft, but not to any serious degree. The vast majority of the film appeared well-defined and concise. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. In terms of print issues, no concerns materialized.

Like most modern action/sci-fi movies, Limitless went with a stylized palette. It essentially broke down along these lines: Schlub Eddie gave us a chilly blue/green tint, while Super-Intelligent Eddie brought out a glossy yellow tone. Within those constraints, the hues were appropriate and well-rendered. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows showed nice delineation and didn’t appear too dense. Overall, this was a positive presentation.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Limitless. The soundfield generally favored the forward spectrum, as a lot of the movie opted for general ambience. However, the scenes that wanted to depict Eddie’s state of mind made good use of the different channels. These delivered a trippy feel that threw a fair amount of info at us. The music showed good stereo presence, and effects integrated neatly. Again, these worked best when we went inside Eddie’s head, and they often formed a broad and encompassing environment.

Audio quality seemed fine. Dialogue consistently came across as clear and natural, with no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were clear and convincing, while music was full and rich. Overall, this was a solid track.

A mix of extras round out the set. Note that the Blu-ray includes both the film’s Theatrical Version (1:44:46) and Unrated Extended Cut (1:45:33). I have no clue how the two differ; I only watched the longer edition, though given the minor time differences, I doubt I’d have noticed changes even if I viewed them both.

We can watch the flick with an audio commentary from director Neil Burger. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, the film’s development, sets, locations and shooting in New York City, cast, characters and performances, cinematography and visual design, effects, stunts, music and some other elements.

While Burger delivers a good amount of useful information, the commentary comes with problems along the way. Burger often tends to simply narrate the movie, and he also praises everything he can find to praise. Those trends don’t harpoon the track, as we still get a reasonable level of interesting details, but they do make it drag more often than I’d like.

Two featurettes follow. A Man Without Limits goes for four minutes, 29 seconds and offers notes from Burger, producer Scott Kroopf, writer/producer Leslie Dixon, costume designer, Jenny Gering, and actors Bradley Cooper and Abbie Cornish. They discuss Cooper’s character and portrayal. This is a short piece but it’s reasonably informative as it digs into various choices.

Taking It to the Limit: The Making of Limitless lasts 11 minutes, 38 seconds and provides remarks from Cooper, Burger, Cornish, Dixon, Kroopf, director of photography Jo Willems, location manager Staci Hagenbaugh, fight coordinator Ben Bray, stunt coordinator Jeffrey Lee Gibson, “A” camera/Steadicam operator David Thompson, “A” camera 1st assistant Glenn Kaplan, on-set visual effects supervisor Christopher Scollard, production designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein, and actor Johnny Whitworth. “Limit” examines the project’s roots and development, how Burger came onto the film and his approach to the material, locations, action sequences, and visual design. Some of the info repeats from the commentary – and the piece takes a pretty glossy vibe – but it does deliver a reasonable amount of useful material in a brief period of time.

An Alternate Ending fills five minutes, 14 seconds. Much of it replicates footage from the final film but it gives the movie a more ambiguous conclusion. I actually prefer it to the real ending.

The disc starts with ads for Immortals, Season of the Witch, and X-Men: First Class. The disc also provides a trailer for Limitless.

A second disc provides a digital copy of Limitless. With this, you can place the movie on a computer or portable viewing gadget. And that’s all I have to say about that!

How can a movie called Limitless seem so consistently limited? The film comes with a cool plot notion but doesn’t develop it beyond some stale story beats. This results in a project with occasional thrills but not enough to make it a winner. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements. The movie offers intermittent entertainment but ends up as a disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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