The new TV season is slowing down our movie-watching some. But we managed to slip this in.
Bradley Cooper plays Eddie, who, as the movie begins, is sliding down the slippery slope to Loserville. He's divorced, and his current girlfriend has given up on him. He (unaccountably) has a book contract, but he's stuck with writer's block on page zero. And his apartment's messy.
But fortune strikes him in the person of Vernon, his ex-brother-in-law, who's also an (ex?-) drug dealer. He offers Eddie this little clear pill called NZT; since Eddie's obviously not best at Making Good Choices, he takes it. As it turns out, NZT unlocks Eddie's untapped mental powers. (There's some mumbo-jumbo about people normally only using a small percent of their brains; this is bullshit, but you can buy into it for the length of this flick.)
There are complications: Vernon obtained the pill illicitly from people not above using deadly violence. NZT wears off, and continued use has nasty side effects. And Eddie gets involved with a Master of the Universe (Robert De Niro), who's looking to exploit Eddie's new skills by fair means or foul. It's not clear that Eddie can make his way to a happy ending.
An interesting plot, and a lot of the dialog is clever. Cooper manages to make Eddie a sympathetic character, and there's some fancy camera work that's fun to watch. I almost gave it four stars, but (frankly) it drags a bit about two-thirds through.