Apparently we only use 20% of our brains. So if we put the other 80% to work, would our knowledge be limitless? It’s hard to say, but we’d certainly be as brainy as can be.
However, since “As Brainy As Can Be” doesn’t exactly scream techno-thrills, let’s give the people behind this adaptation of Alan Glyn’s novel The Dark Fields the benefit of the doubt.
It’s a slick and peppy affair, shouldered by The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper as Eddie, the shambling non-author who pops a mind-expanding pill supplied by his dodgy ex-brother-in-law Vernon (CSI Miami’s Johnny Whitworth).
One taste of enlightenment and Eddie is hooked. So when Vernon is conveniently murdered, Eddie grabs his stash of transparently amazing NZT, rattles off a book in four days and transforms himself into an instant authority on everything from linguistics to global economics.
Invincible and – to the ladies at least - irresistible, he sets his ultra-smart sights on Wall Street... though going to an East European gangster for a start-up loan wouldn’t appear to be the brightest idea of “a guy with a four-figure IQ”.
Still, his ex-girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) loves him again and investment god Carl Van Loon (De Niro) has decided he’s the man to mastermind the biggest American merger since stars met stripes.
Unfortunately, that’s when the side-effects kick in. Vomiting, paranoia, memory loss, disorientation, visitations from his ex-wife (Anna Friel), imperilled girlfriend syndrome, frequent attacks of the goons...
Like NZT itself, Limitless starts on a high, zipping through Eddie’s reinvention with oodles of visual pizzazz.
Gradually, though, the effects wear off. The intriguing concept is undermined by generic characters and unresolved plot threads that allow several of them to literally get away with murder (possibly even Eddie, though we’ll never know). It’s a placebo in flashy packaging.
But as with most placebos, there are positive outcomes.
Cooper, for one, gets to show he’s more than just Hollywood’s latest blue-eyed boy. Rarely off-screen, he makes the most of his headline role whether deep in withdrawal or fighting his way out of trouble by recalling old Bruce Lee movies.
He also holds his own in his enjoyably macho exchanges with old barracuda De Niro – who hasn’t been this watchable for some time.
Bored? Lack of wish-fulfilment in your life? Take Limitless for quick, over-the-counter relief.