The sci-fi thriller Limitless, available on DVD and Blu-ray on July 19th, is an intense and gripping adrenaline rush, starring Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra, a burnt-out writer who discovers a top-secret pill that unlocks 100% of his brain’s capacity. He instantly acquires mind-bending talents and mesmerizing visions that bring him everything he could have ever dreamed or desired, but his life soon becomes a waking nightmare, as the drug’s brutal side effects take their toll. Now with an unrated extended cut, an alternate ending, making of features, deleted scenes and audio commentary, the box office success can be enjoyed even further on DVD and Blu-ray.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, Limitless director Neil Burger talked about how excited he is for people to see the extended cut that is wilder and more extreme than the PG-13 theatrical release, why it took time to perfect the ending of the film, how he believes you shouldn’t reveal everything with the audio commentary, and that he was relieved with how successful the film was. He also talked about recently signing on to helm the big screen adaptation of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, rewriting the script and starting over from scratch, how the already cinematic video game has a great character and some intense moments that he’s looking forward to translating for film, and that he hopes to take fans of the game and moviegoers on an exhilarating ride. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
“We’re rewriting it, and I’m just jumping in right now to do it. The deal really has just closed, so it’s very, very new. I’m basically writing it from scratch. So, it’s a ways off, but it’s very exciting to have something that could be a franchise. I like it, and I like that it’s a bit different from a lot of the science fiction stuff that’s out there. I like that it’s a classic, great adventure.”
On how close he’ll stick to the game:
“I think that the game has a really cinematic quality to it, and it has a wild feel to it, and I like the characters. I like the character of Nate. I know guys like him, who are either war correspondents or extreme adventurers – these guys that are living in a very different way and who are slightly hustlers or con-men. I think it’s a great character. All that stuff is there, the trick is to make it into a movie. There’s a lot of moments in the video game that are very cool and very intense. I would use as many of them as I could, if they work into the film’s story.”
And most important, we asked him if his movie will break the streak of bad video game adaptations:
“I just think you have to make the best movie you can. Something like Indiana Jones was updating 1930’s B-movies. In the same way, we’re inspired by the video game, but we have to do what a movie does best. What the gamers like is that it looks real and that you can be this person and do these amazing things. In a way, we need to do the same thing, but in the world of movies. We need to make it exhilarating and wild, and make you completely identify with this character and take you along on this ride, where you are this character and you feel it.”
Here’s the full interview.
Question: With the special features and extras on the Limitless DVD/Blu-ray, is there anything that you’re most excited about fans of the movie getting to see?
NEIL BURGER: Well, there’s an extended cut that I’m very excited about people getting to see. The movie was intended to be an R, and then it was cut down to be PG-13, which is fine. I really liked the PG-13 version, but I love the R version. It’s much crazier, wilder, more extreme. There’s just some insane things in there, that aren’t in the PG-13 version. It’s much racier, also.
How involved were you with extras for the DVD/Blu-ray? Is that something you start thinking about while filming the movie?
BURGER: Some people do. For me, we were on such a crazy, tight schedule that I was just thinking about trying to get the movie done. It would come up a little bit, but there was so much to do. We literally finished the movie about two weeks before it was released, so we were just jamming to get it done, the whole time. And, anything besides that, such as DVD extras, was far from my mind. Now, there’s some making of and behind-the-scenes stuff, and there’s a bunch of different things on it. I did work really hard on this extended cut version, which is really like a director’s cut. That was really important to me.
Because so much goes into making a film, do you think it’s important to include things like a making of featurette and an audio commentary?
BURGER: Some people are really interested in it. I’ve talked to lots of people who have listened to those audio commentaries on some of my films and they’ve found it really informative. I’ve listened to them on other people’s films and I really like them. What I don’t like, obviously, is sometimes giving away how everything is done because it somehow takes you out of it. To learn, “Oh, that was all CGI, he wasn’t really on the edge of a cliff,” or something like that, robs the movie of its power. Even though you have an intense curiosity to know how everything was done, sometimes I think it’s better to keep some of that stuff under wraps. And yet, there’s a real fascination with how the movies are made, and I appreciate that.
Is it fun for you to go through the film again for the commentary, once you’ve had some distance from it?
BURGER: You know, I didn’t really have any distance from it. I was in it. It’s good to go through the film. You see it in a different way, when you’re talking about it and as it’s moving by. The hard thing is that there’s so much to say about every scene or every character that it’s hard to get it all in.
What can you say about the extra ending that you’ve included and why you decided to include that for people?
BURGER: We decided to include it because there was a lot of talk in some press about the fact that we were re-shooting the ending, so there was a lot of curiosity about it. So, we thought, “Okay, we’ll show you.” We never had quite the right ending, and there was a lot of discussion about it. We never quite had it when we were in pre-production, and even when we were shooting. We were constantly trying to get it done, but we were working on such a crazy schedule and just jamming the whole time, that we never quite got the time to perfect that ending. So, the distance of seeing the movie, once we were editing it, and being able to sit with it, gave us some time to perfect the ending. I really like the ending, the way it is. We had to find what we thought was just the right ending for it.
How surprised were you by the success of this film, not only at the box office, but it was also really enjoyed by critics and moviegoers?
BURGER: I was really pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t surprised, but I was relieved, mostly. We thought we had done a great job and put together something really cool, so we expected it to be successful, quite frankly, and then it was. Sometimes you expect it to be successful and it’s not. But, we thought it did the business that it should have done, so it was fantastic.
After Limitless was such a hit, were you offered a lot of different projects? What was your criteria for picking your next project?
BURGER: I did read a lot of scripts. I definitely plowed through a lot of material. I was looking to take it to the next step. I liked that this had a rock and roll feel to it, and had a wild energy to it. I wanted to do something that was like that again, and maybe even bigger or more blown up. But, at the same time, I wanted to do something that’s real and believable and true, as well.
Was Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune one of the many projects you were offered, or was it something you went after?
BURGER: It was one of the ones that they came to me about. I had known about it before, and I had played the game a long time ago. It was a project that had been around in Hollywood. I knew one of the producers, and he came to me after the movie.
How far along are you in the process of getting the film ready for production? What do you envision for the start of what could be a major franchise?
BURGER: We’re rewriting it, and I’m just jumping in right now to do it. The deal really has just closed, so it’s very, very new. I’m basically writing it from scratch. So, it’s a ways off, but it’s very exciting to have something that could be a franchise. I like it, and I like that it’s a bit different from a lot of the science fiction stuff that’s out there. I like that it’s a classic, great adventure.
How close do you want to stick to the game itself?
BURGER: Well, I like the game. I think that the game has a really cinematic quality to it, and it has a wild feel to it, and I like the characters. I like the character of Nate. I know guys like him, who are either war correspondents or extreme adventurers – these guys that are living in a very different way and who are slightly hustlers or con men. I think it’s a great character. All that stuff is there, the trick is to make it into a movie. There’s a lot of moments in the video game that are very cool and very intense. I would use as many of them as I could, if they work into the film’s story.
Knowing that, in the past, video game movies haven’t lived up to the games, is that something you have to think about when doing a project like this, in order to break that streak?
BURGER: I just think you have to make the best movie you can. Something like Indiana Jones was updating 1930’s B-movies. In the same way, we’re inspired by the video game, but we have to do what a movie does best. What the gamers like is that it looks real and that you can be this person and do these amazing things. In a way, we need to do the same thing, but in the world of movies. We need to make it exhilarating and wild, and make you completely identify with this character and take you along on this ride, where you are this character and you feel it.
With the success of Limitless, and moviegoers really liking your previous work as well, does that put more pressure on you, in making Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, or does it make it more exciting for you that people are actually following your work now?
BURGER: I think it’s the latter. It makes it more exciting. It’s fun. Certainly, there’s always pressure. You want to make a great movie, every single time. But, it’s great that the other movies have a following. They’re all very different and they have different groups who like them and follow them, and Uncharted is going to be a different kind of thing on top of that. Hopefully, if those other movies are just great rides, this one is going to be that way as well.
Is it encouraging and rewarding to know that the studio and producers offered you the film because they responded so well to your take on the material? When that happens, does it make it less of a fight to make the movie you want to make?
BURGER: I think so. Hopefully, yeah. I pitched them something that was very true to the video game, but that just makes it into a movie that supports what’s best about the video game, and I think that they dug that. Obviously, there were lots of specifics that I can’t go into right now, but they seemed to like that. So, yes, we’re on the same page and, hopefully, together we can make something pretty cool.
Did you always want to be a filmmaker and a storyteller, or did something lead you down that path?
BURGER: I wanted to do a number of different things. When I was younger, I wanted to own a circus and create this bizarre revue that went from town to town. I suppose, in a way, I got my wish because when you’re working on a film, you’re in a traveling circus. And, I was interested in set design and doing theater. And then, I was painting for a while. It was all circling around creating an intense experience for an audience of one, or an audience of many.
Is there something that specifically attracts you to doing these kinds of films that give audiences such a wild ride?
BURGER: Well, I know the movies that I’ve liked and I know the experience that they’ve given me, so the goal is always to try to create a movie that I would like myself and that would knock me out, challenge me or intrigue me, in some way. That’s been my criteria for figuring out what I want to do, or also when I’m writing something or creating a scene.