It's no surprise that a man with a new sense of ambition and purpose, helped along by a drug problem, would turn to a career in finance. Not Wall Street, for Limitless is set in Philadelphia*, but that's still the (unintentionally) funniest thing to take away from a film that, if it isn't a pro-drug statement, certainly doesn't do much to dissuade one from the notion that a full, and fully functioning life can be achieved whilst popping pills.
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer who looks homeless but has somehow managed to win and maintain the affections of aspiring editor Lindy (Abbie Cornish). Or at least he had. She dumps him not too long into the film and it's not too long after that Eddie bumps into his ex-brother-in-law who gives him a free sample of a mind-expanding drug.
Despite not knowing the side effects or its chemical composition, Eddie pops the pill and, viola!, a new man is born. Not only does he commence his manuscript (and tidy his unkempt apartment) but he realizes how much potential he has been wasting.
He goes back to the brother-in-law for some pills, which he steals after the guy is murdered, and so begins Eddie's meteoric rise in the corporate and social worlds, mastering the piano, languages and the stock market in a matter of weeks. Never mind the the time lapses, the vomiting and the fact that bad guys seem to be tailing his every move: such is the life of a junkie.
Cooper is perfectly fine as a writer who discovers his inner genius and narcissist via a 'magic' pill; Cornish makes the most of what little she's been given, while Robert De Niro, as a corporate giant named Van Loon and keen to enlist this market predicting wunderkind, has even less to work with.
Of course, Limitless is not meant to be enjoyed as anything other than a 'what if', wish fulfillment, and slightly sci-fi thriller. But for a film about expanding one's mind and potential, it doesn't go anywhere or doing anything remotely original. On the plus side, you won't need to take anything to forget all about it.
*Note: Since posting this review, I have learnt that Limitless was shot in Philadelphia but is set in New York. So my original opening quip about drug abusers and Wall St would have been perfectly fine. D'oh!