Can “Limitless” Overcome Limited Audience?

March 16, 2011
Written by: Rocco Passafuime
RoccoPassafuime@thecinemasource.com
Written by: Rocco Passafuime
RoccoPassafuime@thecinemasource.com


If you were to say that Bradley Cooper has become a true Hollywood leading man in the past few years I think you’d find opposition hard to come by. Cooper, who stars in the film Limitless with Robert DeNiro that opens Friday, has had a meteoric last couple of years. From the terrifyingly douchy fiancé in Wedding Crashers to a lead in J.J. Abrams’ hit television show Alias, Cooper has had a Cinderella rise to stardom. His work in the smash hit comedy The Hangover solidified his A-list status and opened the doors for a flurry of auditions and offers. Though he didn’t get cast in some of the more high profile roles he was chasing, like that of The Green Lantern which eventually went to Ryan Reynolds, Cooper remained on the top of many most wanted lists. Joe Carnahan cast him as Face in his big budget A-Team film, a fun flick that showed off both Cooper’s abs and the range of his charisma.

Unfortunately, it was revealed recently that A-Team failed to make back much more than its budget, killing sequel talks outright. That kind of box office fizzle can’t be completely attributed to Cooper, who, like in The Hangover, was only a piece of the ensemble puzzle, but it has thrown his follow up efforts into a certain level of doubt. This summer he’ll step back into the black out drunk with his cohorts in The Hangover Part II, but this may be his last chance to demonstrate that he can carry a movie all on his own. It’s a boom or bust town, and as much as he’d like to play a role in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, he’s still got to prove to the suits that he’s a real draw.

In Limitless, Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a writer who is given a top-secret drug that bestows upon him super human abilities. The plot synopsis is as follows:

An action-thriller about a writer who takes an experimental drug that allows him to use 100 percent of his mind. As one man evolves into the perfect version of himself, forces more corrupt than he can imagine mark him for assassination. Out-of-work writer Eddie Morra’s (Cooper) rejection by girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) confirms his belief that he has zero future.

That all vanishes the day an old friend introduces Eddie to MDT, a designer pharmaceutical that makes him laser focused and more confident than any man alive. Now on an MDT-fueled odyssey, everything Eddie’s read, heard or seen is instantly organized and available to him. As the former nobody rises to the top of the financial world, he draws the attention of business mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro), who sees this enhanced version of Eddie as the tool to make billions. But brutal side effects jeopardize his meteoric ascent. With a dwindling stash and hit men who will eliminate him to get the MDT, Eddie must stay wired long enough to elude capture and fulfill his destiny. If he can’t, he will become just another victim who thought he’d found invincibility in a bottle.

The film’s had a major marketing push, complete with a pricey Superbowl TV-Spot to boot, and if it crashes and burns it may mark an end to Cooper’s leading role appeal. My money’s on a surprise, however, as the more people I talk to about the film, the more I realize its demographic busting ambition. Everybody wants to be able to take a miracle pill and have everything turn out rosy, so in that respect it’s a fairly universal story. DeNiro will bring in the older crowd, while the younger audience is Cooper’s to lose. Besides the alien comedy Paul and Zach Snyder’s SuckerPunch, it doesn’t really have a whole lot of competition in March, giving it a chance to develop legs going into the spring and summer seasons. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Limitless opens March 18th.

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"Procrastinate now, don't put it off." -Ellen Degeneres

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