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|
|Edited by||Naomi Geraghty
|Box office||$161.8 million|
Limitless is a 2011 American thriller film directed by Neil Burger. Based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, the film stars Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro. The events portrayed in the film follow Edward Morra, a struggling writer, who is introduced to a nootropic drug called NZT-48, which gives him the ability to fully utilize his brain and vastly improve his lifestyle.
Limitless was released on March 18, 2011, and became a box office success after grossing over $161 million on a budget of $27 million. A television series of the same name, covering events that take place after the film, debuted on September 22, 2015, but was cancelled after one season.
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling author with writer's block. His girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish), frustrated with his lack of progress, breaks up with him. Later, Eddie bumps into Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), the forgotten brother of his ex-wife, Melissa (Anna Friel). Vernon gives Eddie a sample of a new nootropic (smart drug), NZT-48. Returning to his apartment, Eddie takes the drug and discovers he now has perfect recall and the ability to cross-correlate information quickly. He cleans his apartment obsessively in a few hours, and finishes writing his new book.
The next day, the effects having worn off, he brings the pages he wrote to his publisher, who praises them. Eddie seeks out Vernon in an attempt to get more, but while he is running errands for him, Vernon is murdered. Eddie discovers Vernon's NZT-48 supply and begins ingesting the drug daily. With the help of the drug's effects, Eddie spends a few weeks cleaning up his life.
Testing his analytical skills on the stock market with Vernon's stash of money, Eddie quickly makes large returns on small investments. He borrows $100,000 from a reluctant Russian loan shark, Gennady (Andrew Howard), and is hired at a brokerage firm, where he quickly parlays this capital into over two million dollars just in a couple weeks. Eddie's success leads to a meeting with finance tycoon Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), He tests Eddie by seeking advice on a merger with Hank Atwood's (Richard Bekins) company. After the big meeting in downtown Manhattan, Eddie starts experiencing hallucinations and the sense of time skipping forward. As this effect recurs over the course of the day and night he finds in several disparate places, after which 18 hours have abruptly passed for which he cannot account.
Eddie goes through Vernon's ledger and discovers that everyone taking NZT-48 is either in the hospital or dead. A man in a trench coat (Tomas Arana) is revealed to have been following him. Eddie meets with Melissa, who informs him that she too had been on NZT-48, and that when she attempted to stop taking it she had experienced a severe mental rebound effect, as well as a limp like Eddie. Furthermore, several people have died after abruptly quitting.
Eddie experiments with NZT-48 and learns to control his dosage, sleep schedule, and food intake to prevent side effects. He hires a laboratory in an attempt to reverse engineer NZT-48, an attorney (Ned Eisenberg) to keep the police from investigating Vernon's death, and two bodyguards to protect him from Gennady, who is threatening him to obtain more NZT-48.
On the day of the merger, Atwood's wife informs Van Loon that he has fallen into a coma. Eddie recognizes Atwood's driver as the man in the trench coat and realizes Atwood is on NZT-48. While Eddie participates in a police lineup, his attorney steals Eddie's whole supply of NZT-48 from his jacket. Soon afterward, Eddie enters withdrawal, and hurries home when Van Loon questions him about Atwood's coma. Gennady breaks into Eddie's apartment, demanding more NZT-48, but Eddie kills him and his henchmen and escapes. He meets with the man in the trench coat, surmising that Atwood employed the man to locate more NZT-48. They recover Eddie's stash from his attorney.
A year later, Eddie has retained his wealth, published a book, and is running for the United States Senate. Van Loon visits him and reveals that he has absorbed the company that produced NZT-48 and shut down Eddie's laboratory, but Eddie implies that he had multiple laboratories working on improving the drug and removing its side effects. He meets Lindy at a Chinese restaurant for lunch.
- Bradley Cooper as Edward "Eddie" Morra
- Robert De Niro as Carlos "Carl" Van Loon
- Abbie Cornish as Lindy
- Anna Friel as Melissa Gant
- Johnny Whitworth as Vernon Gant
- Richard Bekins as Henry "Hank" Atwood
- Robert John Burke as Donald "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
Limitless is based on the 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.
The film 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", 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.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Limitless has an approval rating of 70%, based on 186 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "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 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received a score of 59 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average 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 [audiences] 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.
Bradley Cooper announced in October 2013 that he, Leslie Dixon and Scott Kroopf would be executive producers of a television series based on Limitless. On November 3, 2014, it was announced that CBS would be financing a pilot episode for the Limitless TV series. The pilot continued where the film left off. It was revealed that the main character would be called Brian Finch.
The Limitless pilot would be directed by Marc Webb, replacing Burger who had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict with the Showtime drama pilot Billions. Burger is still an executive producer, alongside Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Heather Kadin. It is based on a script by Elementary executive producer Craig Sweeny. The Limitless pilot was screened/tested on June 1, 2015 with Jake McDorman, Jennifer Carpenter, Hill Harper and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio starring.
Limitless officially got a series order in May 2015. The show was announced as a spin-off of the film, before confirming that Bradley Cooper would make regular appearances, reprising his role as Edward Morra. 
On May 25, 2016, Craig Sweeny announced the series had been cancelled after one season.
- Intellectual giftedness
- Lucy, a 2014 film about a similar nootropic drug, CPH4
- Understand, a 1991 novelette by Ted Chiang, nominated for the 1992 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and won the 1992 Asimov’s Reader Poll.
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