This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will get to pick a film for me to review. They also get to include some of their own thoughts about the movie, if they choose. This Pick comes from Matt Harris.
Written by Leslie Dixon
Directed by Neil Burger
If you could take a pill that would make you a super smart guy, would you do it? This month’s patron pick was explicitly chosen to irritate me, and I love it for that. Would I have ever voluntarily chosen to watch Limitless? Hell no. Am I looking forward to writing this review? Of course, I am! This film is what a stupid person thinks an intelligent person is like. It’s Michael Bay’s concept of what a genius would be. The people that fawn over Elon Musk and think he’s a god among men while ignoring that he’s the child of privilege probably rank this picture as one of their favorites. It is absolutely hilarious in how much it gets wrong and in its perception of succeeding is.
Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) is a struggling writer whose girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) breaks up with him as the film starts. Mora is trying to pound out a novel to meet a book deal he signed but is getting nowhere. Then by chance, Mora runs into Vernon, his ex-brother-in-law. Vernon hears his plight and offers Mora a translucent pill he says will clear his mind and help him. Mora pops the drug and, hours later, finds his mind cleared of all the junk that usually gets in the way. He manages to complete enough of his novel to hook his editor, but Mora needs more of the pills. He heads over to Vernon, who agrees to supply him, but when Mora returns, he finds his supplier dead, and the apartment ransacked. Searching through himself, Mora discovered the stash of these wonder pills and begins a new life. However, the people behind this drug want them back, and Mora is caught in an increasingly dangerous & risky game.
The film was based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, an Irish writer. The most significant difference between these two works is that the book has a considerably bleaker ending where Mora, Spinola in the book, will undoubtedly die from withdrawal. He isolates himself at a remote Vermont motel where he pens the narrative of the novel. As the protagonist begins to drift into a coma, he sees the president on television (visibly operating under the drug’s effects) declare war on Mexico, hinting at a coming world war caused by this pill. The book was written in 2002, so definitely prescient when it came to the W. Bush administration’s future atrocities.
The movie version can’t have that, so instead, Mora ultimately wins and can retain the drug’s effects while weaning off the addiction. In America, drugs are bad, m’kay, so the movie has to be a cautionary tale to not do drugs…but also, being a capitalist prick is a good thing, so…oopsie. We’re told that Mora clears his head of all the stresses, worries, and unnecessary distractions that plague his life. Now that his head is clear, he can complete his novel, and he’ll go on to create more great works of literature? Maybe, using this clear-headedness to help in social problems in our society? We see him giving medical advice to some family and learning languages with ease. What is the ultimate goal of Eddie Mora? He becomes a fucking stock-bro.
According to the ideology of the picture, this is the pinnacle achievement: become a stock bro who fucks bitches and drives fast cars. This is what a dumb person thinks it is like to be an intelligent person. Let’s go back to have a cloudy head. Where do those stresses originate from? Eddie lives in a dump of an apartment and is referred to multiple times as looking “homeless.” We could spend some time talking about the unfair prejudice against houseless people but let’s focus on the root causes of the stress. Eddie’s clouded brain comes from the pressures of capitalism. He has to do the work to pay his bills, and his girlfriend doesn’t want to be with him because he’s so poor & gross. They eventually get back together when of course, he is wearing nice clothes and throwing around money. He does cheat on her multiple times, as implied in many scenes and overtly in one of them. But, it’s the drugs, babe! It wasn’t me!
At one point, off-screen, Mora straight-up murders a woman he’s hooked up with as a one-night stand. He hires a lawyer to mess with the police, and they even manipulate a police line-up so that every man looks as close to Mora as possible, and he gets off. That’s it for that subplot. This man gets away with literal murder. But it was while he was experiencing lost time due to the drug, so not him! The film’s ending has Mora running for the U.S. Senate and looking like he’s a shoo-in. It’s also clear he has presidential chances. Yet, the movie’s tone is not one of dread that someone like this will get their hands on federal power. He manages to show up the old dude who he used to work for (Robert DeNiro). The ending of the film is telling us what an awesome guy Mora is.
I think it is good to watch movies like this from time to time because they help me understand where the absolute moral vacuum is in America. This picture exists as a sort of justification for every dudebro who thinks life is about accumulating wealth and things without substance. It even gives them the ability to say women only come back when they have money. This is like if Ed Hardy produced a movie. A little while ago, I did a series about “sleeper horror” movies, which weren’t officially in that genre but, upon closer examination, reveal themselves as definitely feeling like a horror movie. Limitless certainly falls into that category with a protagonist that is one evil, rotten motherfucker.