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Thursday June 21st 2018

Limitless | 2011

New York wannabe writer and all-round sad-sack Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is tempted to try a not-entirely-above-board drug called NZT which unlocks the vast possibilities of his brain. What’s the betting it will have dire side effects?

By the way, if you watch the film on DVD, choose the original, darker and more ambiguous ending.

Although set almost entirely in New York, the film was based at Philadelphia Soundstages, 1600 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and much of it was filmed around the city.

Of course, Eddie's apartment has to be the real New York. It’s 19-21 Henry Street at Catherine Street toward the south of Chinatown in the Two Bridges district, sandwiched between the entrances to Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.

But when his long-suffering girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) breaks up with him, it’s in Philadelphia. The bright airy café is the Marathon Grill, 1818 Market Street at 19th Street.

Seriously in the dumps, Eddie is taken for a drink by his ex-wife’s brash and apparently successful brother Vernon (Johnny Whitworth). It’s in the comfortably old-style, wood-panelled bar of the Happy Rooster, 118 South 16th Street at Sansom Street, Philadelphia, that Vern magnanimously offers Eddie a free trial of the exclusive pharmaceutical product.

The results are startling as he finds himself confidently sweet-talking his landlord’s wife, jogging along the East River waterfront beneath the Manhattan Bridge and completing the book he’d been struggling with.

The office of his publisher, where Eddie triumphantly delivers the manuscript to his astonished editor, is 200 5th Avenue, alongside 23rd Street subway station. Did you recognise it as the newspaper office in which Eva Mendes worked in 2005 romcom Hitch, with Will Smith?

In the preposterously grand environs of the Union Trust Steakhouse, 717 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Eddie impresses the business crowd with his insight enough to get an offer of work in the world of finance.

Dating from 1888, and with a soaring sixty-five-foot carved ceilings and a breathtaking balcony, the steakhouse positively reeks of rich Philadelphia history. Not surprising since it once served as the Union Trust Company Bank.

Giddy with success, the newly-comfortably-off Eddie is soon jetting away with the wealthy crowd to an unnamed, sun-drenched resort, supposedly somewhere in Europe.

The crazy jaunt was filmed at Puerto Vallarta, Bahia de Banderas, on the western coast of Mexico.

Confident enough to take a spontaneous cliff dive, Eddie recklessly leaps from the towering rocks of the Marieta Islands, a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the Punta de Mita peninsula, northwest of Puerto Vallarta. This is a protected nature reserve so visitation is limited.

Despite this radical change in his fortunes, Eddie still needs upfront capital to fund his new-found ambitions.

He meets up with thuggish Russian loan shark Gennady (Andrew Howard) in Billy G’s Luncheonette, 345 North 12th Street at Callowhill Streets, Philadelphia. This is also where he later meets up with his ex-wife Melissa (Anna Friel). Sadly, it’s since closed.

Briefly back to Manhattan, Gennady hands over the bag of cash on a bench in Union Square.

But the next imposing hangout is back in Philly. In the Butcher and Singer Steakhouse, 1500 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, the new, improved Eddie impresses Lindy with his confidence and his sudden mastery of the Italian language. The steakhouse used to be the Striped Bass restaurant, where Bruce Willis had dinner with his strangely silent wife in M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.

Things just keep getting grander. Eddie ignores the occasional blackout to impress bigtime mogul Van Loon (Robert De Niro) in the pillared and scarlet-draped grandeur of Del Frisco's, 1426-1428 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

NZT’s side-effects start to kick in big time as Eddie finds himself suddenly uptown on New York’s Fifth Avenue outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The film’s dizzying ‘infinite zoom’ whooshes along Madison Avenue past Campbell’s Funeral Parlor, 1076 Madison Avenue (several times) – the place for a celeb send-off seen in The First Wives Club and Woody Allen’s Everyone says I Love You.

Without quite knowing how or why, Eddie is channelling Bruce Lee in a ruckus with a whole bunch of thugs in the Clinton-Washington Avenue Subway Station on Fulton Street between Clinton Avenue and Washington Avenue in Brooklyn.

He eventually comes to his senses in the early morning at the viewing area on Brooklyn Bridge.

Determined to kick the NZT habit, Eddie goes cold-turkey for a crucial meeting with Van Loon in the ‘St Regis Hotel’. The meeting is held in the Ritz-Carlton, 10 Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia. It doesn’t end well with Eddie throwing up (literally, as the camera angle has it) outside on South Broad Street.

It’s back to New York to find the DeSalvio Playground, on Mulberry Street at Spring Street in NoLita, where Eddie desperately phones Vern’s contacts only to discover that they’re either in hospital or already dead. One call activates the phone of a sinister figure sitting on a nearby bench, referred to as ‘Man in Tan Coat’.

Tan-Coat Man (Tomas Arana) chases Eddie along Spring Street from Mulberry Street to Lafayette Street where’s he’s able to leap into the back of a Yellow Cab.

And that Russian loan shark? He turns up not only demanding payback but helping himself to Eddie’s NZT as a bonus.

Eddie hands over the money by the fountains on 6th Avenue at 50th Street.

Remembering his remaining stash is hidden in Lindy’s apartment, Eddie is obliged to tell her all and ask her to bring him his fix.

Lindy reluctantly obliges but when she realises her cab is being followed, leaps out and legs it through Central Park.

Well, sort of. The chase, with Tan-Coat Man seeing off two unfortunate passers-by who attempt to help Lindy, is through Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.

Back to the real NY, Lindy swallows a pill and in no time at all is on Central Park’s Wollman Skating Rink between East 62nd and 63rd Streets, turning a little girl’s blades into a lethally defensive weapon.

Eddie gets his little helpers, survives an attack by Gennady and his gang and ‘12 months later’ is making good his ambitions by running for the Senate in 'New York'.

Morra’s campaign office, ‘57th & Lexington Ave’, where Van Loon suddenly pops up again, is the former AAA headquarters,  2040 Market Street, at 21st Street in Philadelphia. This is where the sappily softer new ending was also filmed, several months later.

In the coda to this version, Eddie meets up with Lindy and shows off his mastery of Mandarin in smart Pan-Asian restaurant Sampan, 124 South 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (tel: 215-732-3501).

The clearly multi-talented Tom Ford, credited here with designing Bradley Cooper’s suits, is also director of the highly-regarded A Single Man and Nocturnal Animals.