Limitless - Unrated Extended Cut Blu-ray Review
On Region Free A-locked US Blu-ray we get a superb 1080p High Definition video rendition (identical to the UK release), presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. It should be noted that the visual style of the production varies dramatically depending on whether or not the lead character is on the fictional drug NZT – it goes from a kind of Lord of the Rings-ish greeny-blue during the opening act, which establishes his drab world of unfinished writing and doomed relationships; then, as the NZT kicks in, the world becomes more Michael Bay – flashy, bright, vibrant colours, desaturated and ramped up so that everything looks extra-real. Both worlds look amazing on Blu-ray, detail remaining strong throughout, both on the longer establishing shots, and the close-ups, observing facial expressions. Fine object detail is excellent too, and there’s no sign of any edge enhancement, DNR or any digital defects – and no softness whatsoever. There’s a light sheen of grain giving the movie that suitably filmic edge, but no overtly unintentional or out of place noise. The colours scheme, as already hinted at, is broad and vibrant – vivid in the extreme for the most part, largely as a result of the NZT – and it looks superb throughout, rounded out by deep, strong black levels that allow for fantastic shadowing and night-set sequences. Although there’s a lack of 3D pop, there really is little else to complain about here, and I’d regard it as easily demo quality, just shy of perfection.
On the aural front we get the same superb DTS-HD Master Audio track which accompanied the UK release, and which promoted the frenetic material extremely well, presenting the dialogue clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array wherever appropriate; giving the effects keen presence across the arrays – from the bustling city streets, to the roar of a Maserati GranTurismo, a few sporadic gunshots and some truly penetrating blows, thudding at a steel door and echoing around your skull as a result. Bass comes into play frequently, although it is always on standby, giving the accompanying soundtrack – full of energetic beats – some power and presence. Limitless is, from its very subject matter, very much about stylised visuals and fast-paced music; and this track does well to offer all this up in a very welcome audio package.
The US Blu-ray release has all the same extras as the UK release, but also boasts the option to watch the Unrated Extended Cut, and sports a second disc which has a Digital Copy of the film on it.
First up we get a full length audio commentary with the Director Neil Burger, who takes us through his production – explaining some background into the original novel, the first few drafts of the script; and then focussing in on the lead character, how they brought him to life with both muted blue-dominated tones and grungy outfits/hair style and the massive changes they made (including visually) to show the flip when taking NZT. He obviously talks about working with DeNiro, and mentions the other characters; whilst always dropping back to the story of what is going on on-screen, and relating that back to how he wanted to see this story brought to life. It’s occasionally interesting, but unfortunately comes across slowly and in a really pretty damn boring fashion thanks to the director’s soft-spoken monotone. Still, fans of the film will find this the greatest source of information so will probably want to give it a listen.
A Man Without Limits is only four-and-a-half minutes long and plays as little more than an extended trailer, with Bradley Cooper on hand to talk about how great the script was, how desperate he was to be in the movie and how much he wanted to work opposite Robert De Niro. The director similarly praises Cooper (along with the writers and the costume designer) in your usual mutual back-patting routine which mainly focuses on the lead character. It’s quite an annoying featurette really, but there are a couple of very brief behind the scenes glimpses, which, I guess, is better than nothing.
Taking It To The Limit: The Making of Limitless is a much less fluffy offering – taking a still relatively short 11 minutes to look behind the scenes at the production: with plenty of behind the scenes glimpses of cars being raced, stunts being set up, cast and crew operating on the streets, and crowds of fans cheering from the sidelines. There’s a little background into the fight choreography, and the shooting locations, and interview snippets from all the relevant cast and crew involved. Fast-paced – like the movie itself – and packed with information and corresponding images, it’s a decent enough extras, just not quite as comprehensive as a proper-length documentary might have been.
Ever since I saw the movie at the flicks – and heard that the home format release was carrying an alternate ending – I’ve been eager to check it out. Why? Well, in case you hadn’t guessed it from what I wrote in the movie review, I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by the final act of the film, and, in particular, thought that the ending could have been much stronger. Unfortunately the alternate ending plays out with exactly the same scene and shots as the theatrical cut, except with marginally different dialogue – and it’s just as bad, only it offers up the opposite end result when it comes to whether or not the lead character has managed to get off NZT (I’m not telling you which one’s which, suffice to say both bases are covered). It’s no big deal, but what is interesting is that the writer Leslie Dixon commented in an interview about the ending of the film, and incorrectly explained about whether or not the lead character was off the drug – which implies that she assumed the alternate ending included here, was the ending that had been released theatrically. You can assume further from this that the original ending was the alternate ending, and that test audiences complained about it, and that the ending tacked-on in the theatrical cut is actually the different ending. Anyways, that’s just a bit of background trivia – unfortunately, as stated, neither ending really fully satisfies.
Finally there are some preview trailers to round off the disc, as well as the main feature’s theatrical trailer, and a Digital Copy of the film, included on a separate disc.
Limitless actually does have its limitations. It’s a great premise, made the most of for the first two thirds of its remarkably short runtime, but things go off the rails towards the end, as if the writers simply didn’t know how to capitalise on the elaborate concept and rounds things off satisfactorily. Still, it’s a fun, flash ride, held together by a decent performance from Bradley Cooper and some nice extended cameos from the likes of Robert DeNiro and Abbie Cornish. Oddly, for a movie about the enlightening effects of an addictive and potentially dangerous drug, the narrative isn’t all that well thought-out – perhaps the filmmakers ran out of NZT halfway through production.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray, we get the same excellent video and audio as the UK release, and the same selection of pretty average extras, but, perhaps most importantly, we get the option to watch either version of the film – the censored PG-13 theatrical cut, or the marginally longer, slightly grittier, and thus better, Unrated Extended Cut. For that option alone, this is the superior package, and should be the one that you pick up.
Overall, I’d say Limitless is a flawed but flashy and entertaining enough flick, certainly stylish enough to justify a rental; and if you’re looking to buy, I’d definitely pick up the US release.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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