Saturday, 9 July 2016


Everyone’s dream is to reach the next level; to be far more than ordinary. LIMITLESS (2011) sees author Eddie struggling through writer’s block, until acquiring a stash of designer drugs which increase his potential, radically. The enhanced-Eddie’s brain upgrade runs intelligence at peak efficiency; focused learning and problem-solving-energy that’s on with a capital O, capital N. Total recall, clarity of thought, spiky reasoning, fresh perspectives, and vaulting imagination but human nature’s sys op is hampered by greed. On NZT pills, Eddie becomes New York City’s wonder boy. A high flyer, go–getter, and jet–setter, he’s making headlines until - suddenly, his life moves so swiftly he can’t keep up and a burn-out seems inevitable, more so when he’s facing a final test (working De Niro) of outsmarting the crooked capitalist Van Loon.  

Despite its blatant symbolism – an inverted camera shows Eddie’s world turned upside down, Neil Burger’s SF thriller boasts a likeable star (Bradley Cooper, A-Team remake, Midnight Meat Train, Alias TV series) ably portraying the mental crashes of an addict off his smart meds, even though he’s less convincing as a born-again genius. The narrative climax is a bloodily violent interrogation and subsequent getaway, that follows genre references to Flowers For Algernon (see also Charly, Lawnmower Man), and The Man Who Fell To Earth, while toying with allegories of Lazarus and Icarus, and yet it is really nothing more than Wall Street rebooted as sci-fi suspenser.

Eddie fails to go further than corporate–merger broker, overlooking the fact that no matter how quick a student he is, there’s just no substitute for the kind of hard-won experience that produces genuine wisdom. The DVD has two versions of a happy ending, the better/ preferred choice of which also manages a neat and uncanny trick of quietly dramatising a face-to-face handover of power between Van Loon - representing the corrupt old guard of 20th century saps, and fast Eddie who is aiming much higher as possibly the next stage in human evolution.

Since I wrote this movie review five years ago, there’s been a spin-off TV series but it was cancelled after one season (to be released on DVD, 22nd August).

No comments: