Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Neil Burger|
|Produced by||Leslie Dixon
|Screenplay by||Leslie Dixon|
|Based on||The Dark Fields
by Alan Glynn
Robert De Niro
|Music by||Paul Leonard-Morgan|
|Editing by||Tracy Adams
|Distributed by||Relativity Media (US)
Momentum (UK & IRL)
|Running time||105 minutes|
|Budget||$27 million |
|Box office||$161,849,455 |
Limitless is a 2011 American thriller film directed by Neil Burger and starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro. It is based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn with the screenplay by Leslie Dixon.
Edward "Eddie" Morra (Bradley Cooper), an author suffering from writer's block, living in New York, is stressed by the approaching deadline his publisher has set. His girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), frustrated with his lack of progress and financial dependance, breaks up with him. Later, Eddie meets Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth). Vernon gives Eddie a nootropic drug, NZT-48. After taking the pill, Eddie finds himself able to learn faster and recall memories from his distant past. He uses this ability to finish 90 pages of his book. The next day, the effects having worn off, he seeks out Vernon in an attempt to get more. Whilst Eddie is running an errand, Vernon is killed. Eddie returns, steals Vernon's NZT supply and calls the police. Using NZT to his benefit, Eddie completes his book. Testing his potential on the stock market, Eddie manages to make large returns on small investments. Realising he requires more capital, he borrows $10,000 from a Russian loan shark, Gennady (Andrew Howard), and successfully makes a return of $2 million. He increases his NZT dosage, and rekindles his relationship with Lindy.
Eddie's success leads to a meeting with a business tycoon, Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who wants Eddie to advise on a merger with Hank Atwood (Richard Bekins). To celebrate, Eddie spends the evening in a bar, and ends up in a hotel room with a blonde woman (Caroline Winberg). However, he experiences memory loss, forgetting everything he'd done in the last 18 hours, and finds himself standing on a bridge. Later, Eddie sees a news report detailing the murder of the woman he's spent the night with, and is unable to remember if he was the killer.
Eddie meets with Melissa, and discovers that she too had been on NZT. When she attempted to stop taking it, she'd experienced extreme side effects and others had died after stopping. On his way home, Eddie is attacked by Gennady, who takes Eddie's last NZT pill. Eddie visits Lindy and asks her to retrieve his backup stash, which he'd hidden in her apartment. On her way back, she is followed by a man (Tomas Arana) who'd been stalking Eddie. He traps Lindy, and Eddie tells her to take an NZT pill. She uses the enhanced processing powers it gives her to escape and returns the pills to Eddie.
Eddie experiments with the drug, and learns to control his dosage and food intake to stop any side effects developing. He continues to earn money on the stock exchange, and hires bodyguards to protect him from Gennady, who threatens him in an attempt to locate more NZT. He buys an armored penthouse, and hires a laboratory to reverse engineer NZT. For his part in the merger, Eddie is promised $40 million, and he hires an attorney (Ned Eisenberg) to help keep the police, investigating both Vernon and the woman's deaths, away.
On the day of the merger, Atwood's wife informs Van Loon that he's fallen into a coma. Eddie recognises Atwood's driver as his stalker. Whilst Eddie participates in a lineup, his attorney steals Eddie's whole supply of NZT from his jacket. Eddie discovers his pills are gone when he returns home, and enters withdrawal. Gennady breaks into his apartment, demanding more NZT. He reveals that, to increase its potency, he has been injecting it. Eddie stabs Gennady, and drinks his blood to absorb the intravenous NZT. His increased mental capacity reinstated, Eddie kills Gennady's henchmen and escapes. He meets with his stalker, surmising that Atwood employed the man to locate more NZT. The two join forces and recover Eddie's stash from his attorney.
A year later, Eddie has retained his wealth, his book has been released, and he is running for the United States Senate. Van Loon visits him and reveals he has absorbed the company that produced NZT and shut down Eddie's laboratory. He offers a steady supply of the drug in return for power when Eddie inevitably becomes president. Eddie reveals that not only did he have multiple laboratories producing NZT for him, they'd eventually developed a way for him to stop taking the drug and retain his mental abilities. He dismissed Van Loon, and meets Lindy in a restaurant for lunch.
- Bradley Cooper as Edward "Eddie" Morra
- Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon
- Abbie Cornish as Lindy
- Anna Friel as Melissa Gant
- Johnny Whitworth as Vernon Gant
- Richard Bekins as Hank Atwood
- Robert John Burke as Don Pierce
- Tomas Arana as the Man in a tan coat
- T.V. Carpio as Valerie
- Patricia Kalember as Mrs. Atwood
- Andrew Howard as Gennady
- Ned Eisenberg as Morris Brandt
- Robert Bizik as Coffee Shop Owner
Limitless is based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. The film is directed by Neil Burger and is based on a screenplay by Leslie Dixon, who had acquired rights to the source material. Dixon wrote the adapted screenplay for less than her normal cost in exchange for being made one of the film's producers. She and fellow producer Scott Kroopf approached Burger to direct the film, at the time titled The Dark Fields. For Burger, who had written and directed his previous three films, the collaboration was his first foray solely as director. With Universal Pictures developing the project, Shia LaBeouf was announced in April 2008 to be cast as the film's star.
The project eventually moved to development under Relativity Media and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Produced with Universal distributing through Relativity's Rogue Pictures. By November 2009, actor Bradley Cooper replaced LaBeouf in the starring role. Robert De Niro was cast opposite Cooper by March 2010, and The Dark Fields began filming in Philadelphia the following May. Filming also took place in New York City. For a car chase scene filmed in Puerto Vallarta, filmmakers sought a luxury car. Italian carmaker Maserati provided two Maserati GranTurismo coupes free in "a guerrilla-style approach" to product placement. By December 2010, The Dark Fields was re-titled Limitless.
Limitless had its world premiere in New York City on March 8, 2011. It was released in 2,756 theaters in the United States and Canada on March 18, 2011. It grossed a $18.9 million on its opening weekend to rank first at the box office, beating other openers The Lincoln Lawyer and Paul as well as carryovers Rango and Battle: Los Angeles. Limitless was released in the United Kingdom on March 23, 2011.
Before the film's release, Box Office Mojo called Limitless a wild card for its box office predictability, highlighting its "clearly articulated" premise and the pairing of Cooper and De Niro but questioned a successful opening. The film opened at number one in its first week in the US. The film did well at the box office, earning some $79 million in the U.S. and Canada as well as some $157 million worldwide against its $27 million budget.
Critical reception 
Limitless received generally positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 70% based on reviews from 182 critics, and reports a rating average of 6.4 out of 10. The site reported a consensus that, "Although its script is uneven, Neil Burger directs Limitless with plenty of visual panache, and Bradley Cooper makes for a charismatic star." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 62 based on 37 reviews.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 and 1/2 stars and said it was "not terrifically good, but the premise is intriguing" and also stated that director Neil Burger uses "inventive visual effects." Lastly he said, "Limitless only uses 15, maybe 20 percent of its brain. Still, that's more than a lot of movies do."
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Limitless should be so much smarter than it is," believing that it took conventional plot turns and stuck closely to genre elements like Russian gangsters and Wall Street crooks. Honeycutt reserved praise for Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Anna Friel. He also commended cinematographer Jo Willems' camerawork and Patrizia von Brandenstein's production design in the film's array of locales.
Variety's Robert Koehler called Limitless a "propulsive, unexpectedly funny thriller". Koehler wrote, "What makes the film so entertaining is its willingness to go far out, with transgressive touches and mind-bending images that take zoom and fish-eye shots to a new technical level, as the pill enables Eddie to experience astonishing new degrees of clarity, perception and energy." He said of Cooper's performance, "Going from grungy to ultra-suave with a corresponding shift in attitude, Cooper shows off his range in a film he dominates from start to finish. The result is classic Hollywood star magnetism, engaging auds physically and vocally, as his narration proves to be a crucial element of the pic's humor." The critic also positively compared Willems' cinematography to the style in Déjà Vu (2006) and commended the tempo set by the film's editors Naomi Geraghty and Tracy Adams and by composer Paul Leonard-Morgan.
Possible sequel 
It has been revealed that directors and writers are collaborating on a script and that Leslie Dixon who wrote the script on the first Limitless movie will most probably proceed to write the second one as well; however, Alan Glynn, who wrote the book The Dark Fields on which the movie is based, failed to give any details on the sequel and did not comment when asked if he will help in writing Limitless 2.
See also 
- Intellectual giftedness
- A Scanner Darkly (film) similar movie set in the near future, involving the fictional mind-altering Substance D
- Charly, a 1968 American drama film also featuring increase in human intelligence
- Flowers for Algernon, a 1958 short story, later extended into a novel of the same name, which is the basis for the movie Charly
- Understand, a novelette published in 1991 by Ted Chiang
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a similar story of character-changing chemicals
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- "Limitless (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- Siegel, Tatiana (April 13, 2008). "Shia LaBeouf visits 'Dark Fields'". Variety.
- Macaulay, Scott (Winter 2011). "Possible Side Effects". Filmmaker.
- Siegel, Tatiana (November 5, 2009). "Bradley Cooper 'Fields' film offer". Variety.
- Siegel, Tatiana (March 3, 2010). "De Niro to star in 'Fields'". Variety.
- Miller, Daniel (March 11, 2011). "How Maserati Landed Spots in 'Limitless' and 'Entourage' for Free". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Puente, Maria (December 17, 2010). "First look: 'Limitless' power comes in the form of a pill". USA Today.
- Schaefer, Stephen (March 9, 2011). "'Limitless' bow reaches full potential". Variety.
- McClintock, Pamela (March 18, 2011). "Friday Box Office: 'Limitless' Pulls Ahead of Crowded Field". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "New Limitless UK Posters". Empire. February 21, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Subers, Ray (March 2, 2011). "March 2011 Preview". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- "Limitless Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- "Limitless". Metacritic. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- "Limitless". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Honeycutt, Kirk (March 15, 2011). "Limitless: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Koehler, Robert (March 14, 2011). "Film Reviews: Limitless". Variety.
- Associated Press (2011-10-16). "Pee Wee, Potter, Vader honored at Scream Awards". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
- Nominations for the 38th Annual Saturn Awards, saturnawards.org, February 29, 2012.
- Official website
- Limitless at the Internet Movie Database
- Limitless at Rotten Tomatoes
- Limitless at Box Office Mojo
- A 'Limitless' memory? It may not be a good thing at MSNBC
- Pseudo Web site about NZT as if it was a real product
- Articles about health and NZT similar drugs