Director Neil Burger turns Alan Glynn’s modern Faustian tale The Dark Fields into a viscerally exciting techno-thriller about the folly of ambition. Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a slovenly and creatively blocked novelist who is dumped by his exasperated girlfriend.
A chance meeting with his Mephistophelean ex-brother-in-law introduces Eddie to a mysterious designer smart drug that gives him superhuman learning abilities. He rapidly becomes a multimillionaire day trader whose prophecies are sought by a powerful oil baron (Robert De Niro). Personality transformed, Eddie flies high while descending into addiction and dodging dangerous fellow addicts.
Smartly written first-person narration draws us into Eddie’s story, and imaginative editing conveys the thrill ride of his astonishing mental adventures. Unlike the book, Limitless scarcely speculates on the drug’s origins and purpose, and replaces a dark ending with a more equivocal, and arguably more subversive, conclusion. --Pamela Zoslov