The common refrain that we use only ten percent of our brains is the premise of the fun and stylish Limitless. Bradley Cooper stars as Eddie Morra, a down and out writer with a book contract and a massive case of writer’s block. Eddie’s fortune suddenly changes when he bumps into his ex-wife’s shady brother who claims to represent a pharmaceutical company that has developed a miracle drug that will allow people to harness the full power of their brain. He offers Eddie a freebie sample and what human being would say no to that? Of course, as in life, too good to be true is too good to be true. Before you can say trouble, Eddie is a genius pounding out 40 pages a day while conquering the world of finance, some nasty men are chasing him, and he’s having black outs.

Limitless has a pop-up book type, visually engaging style that matches the quick pace of the story. Eddie is shown watching himself to illustrate the out of body feeling he experiences as his brain snaps into full speed and races ahead of him. As he types on his computer, his ceiling tiles become rotating squares filled with letters like his own personal Wheel of Fortune board.

The movie is a playful, thriller/fantasy with a sly sense of humor. Bradley Cooper is electric as he goes from grungy loser to master of the universe. Welsh actor Andrew Howard is ruthlessly funny as a street thug who after getting a taste of Eddie’s stash of brain Viagra decides it’s time to move on up out of the loan shark business. Robert De Niro is understatedly dangerous as a business tycoon, Carl Van Loon who tangles with Eddie as his world keeps spinning out of control. Abbie Cornish has the standard pretty girlfriend role although the director throws her a bone and she does get one fun scene that highlights her and New York’s Central Park.

The truth is that throughout any given day people use 100 percent of their brain, just not all at once. That would explain why the last five minutes of Limitless don’t hold up to the riveting 100 minutes that come before. No matter how the brain tries to justify it the ending is an abrupt halt to this high wire ride, but it’s a ride worth taking.

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