I saw this a week ago–a week ago!–and I’m having a hard time writing a review. Not because it wasn’t entertaining. It was as good as anything I’ve seen this year, last year and the year before. And that’s why it’s hard to review it. It wasn’t outstandingly great or shockingly bad. It didn’t change movie making or challenge me in any way. No movie has in a long time, even the ones I’ve given good reviews to. Even though I’ve been entertained, I just haven’t felt yippy skippy/call my friends about a movie since The Bad Lieutenant, Blue Velvet, Room with a View, The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover, early Woody Allen movies, or even The Russians are Coming. Those were movies I wanted to talk about and copy and memorize lines from. Nobody is going to do an homage to Limitless.
That isn’t to say it wasn’t good. It was. Bradley Cooper is really handsome and charming. (Although, oddly, his fingernails were dirty throughout the film; maybe it was supposed to mean something?) The plot is that he is given a pill that gives him access to the 80% of his brain that isn’t used. (You’ve heard that we only use 20% of our brains, right?) He gets really, super smart and uses those smarts to get really, super rich. (And finish his novel in four days. Bastard.) He also gets his girl back. Here’s the rub: like any drug, he needs more and more of it to achieve the same results but his supply is finite and he is unable to get more. As he gets closer to running out, he discovers that other people are in his same predicament and want the few pills he has left. He also learns that there are side effects and they are fatal. Like any drug, it eventually kills you.
I was disappointed in the ending, which I felt was too convenient and glossed over and unbelievable if I can even say that given that the premise of the movie is fantasy. However, I did expect an anti-drug message. Bradley somehow figures out how to buck the system, to have his drug and be smart, happy and healthy, too.
A few days before we saw Limitless, my son had received a grade on a paper that was lower than he wanted and was asking me if there was any way he could add points to his IQ. I told him there was not and had often wished to be smarter myself. Would I take a pill that made me smarter with the risk of eventually killing me? Hell yes, but I have a problem with magical thinking and addiction. Come to think of it, I suppose this film is just another drug film except for the users don’t just think drugs makes them clear headed and smarter, drugs actually make them clear headed and smarter.
I just spent a few sentences thinking about this film. Maybe it does elicit additional thoughts after the credits roll? Go see it and find out for yourself.