Limitless (Unrated Extended Cut)

Coolest extra: Alternate ending (DVD/Blu-ray)

Complex says: Limitless is two-thirds of a strong, taut, and vibrant thriller. For its first two acts, director Neil Burger (The Illusionist)’s high-concept film takes an intriguing premise and milks it for all of its inherent muscle. Bradley Cooper, successfully holding down leading man honors in his first top-billed, non-Hangover release, plays a struggling sci-fi writer, living in New York City, who stumbles across a new, untested drug known as NZT, which allows him to use all of his brain’s power. At first, he indulges in NZT to own the stock market, impress the ladies, and rack up millions of dollars; soon, though, as a multi-billionaire (Robert De Niro) calls upon Bradley’s character to oversee a colossal corporate merger, gangsters hunt him down, thirsty for his NZT stash.

Surprisingly, Limitless upends expectations for a commercial Hollywood-made thriller, at least for a while. With Burger’s experimental camera filters (think Gaspar Noe-light), a breakneck pace, and some rather dark plot turns, the Bradley Cooper show shows all signs of an unhappy ending—which is why the film’s tidy, up-tempo conclusion is such a massive letdown. Just as it’s about to culminate in a downbeat coda that’d be completely warranted story-wise, Limitless goes the Steven Spielberg/War Of The Worlds route, flipping its tone at the last minute and, basically, bitching out.

The script sells him short in the end, yet Cooper walks away from the ultimately disappointing Limitless unscathed; dude’s a star, and Burger’s uneven flick permits him the chance to show range (his character starts off as a meek, Seattle-grunge-rocker lookalike and finishes the pic as a suave man of power). The same can’t be said for De Niro, however, who lifelessly floats through the movie on his way to cash yet another quick and easy check at his bank of choice.

As frustrating as its unfittingly pleasant ending is, Limitless is still worth a look; original concepts and free-wheeling direction aren’t easy to come by these days, so Burger’s kinetic thriller at least goes against the curve. Just check any heightened hopes before the opening seconds.

Buy it now: Limitless (Unrated Extended Cut)

 

Take Me Home Tonight

Coolest extra: “Music Boombox,” which compiles '80s music videos, including N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton”, Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf”, and Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” (DVD/Blu-ray)

Complex says: You’d think that director Michael Dowse would have no reason to applaud the fact that his '80s-nostlagic comedy Take Me Home Tonight hit theaters this past March, considering that the film only grossed a dismal $7 million at the box office. But, alas, there is one reason to cheer, and it’s as simple as this: Take Me Home Tonight actually made it into theaters. A minor victory, but, for a movie that was shot in 2007 and spent nearly four years in cinematic limbo, it’s better than straight-to-DVD burial.

It’s easy to see why this harmless yet largely unfunny flick had such a difficult time seeing release—there’s hardly anything noteworthy about the damn thing. Mining the '80s for comedic gold just seems lazy nowadays, having been driven into tiredness over the years in comedies both stronger (The Wedding Singer) and middling (Hot Tub Time Machine). In this case, the 1988-set pic has those old house party flicks of yesteryear in mind, the ones in which nerdy outcasts (here, Topher Grace) score the girls of their dreams (sexy Teresa Palmer) with the help of their knucklehead best sidekicks (an unfortunate Anna Faris and the always grating Dan Fogler).

Where was Jay Baruchel when Bowse needed him? In addition to being a 30-year-old who’s playing an immature college graduate, Grace lacks the charisma to sell his underdog character; instead of wanting him to bag Palmer, you’re left hoping she’s wise enough to ignore such an underwhelming suitor. Not that a star upgrade would have salvaged Take Me Home Tonight; when a movie’s jokes hit as softly as these, and the aftermath is one of such yawn-producing indifference, the cast is inconsequential. Much like this film as a whole.

Buy it now: Take Me Home Tonight