Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why the movie Limitless deserves cold and unfeeling rejection from you and everyone you know

I went to see Limitless last night, a movie based on Alan Gynn's novel, The Dark Fields. How did I like the movie? Hmmm. Well, if this movie were a person, I would have punched it in the face, made a citizen's arrest and thrown it in jail.

The story is about Eddie Morra, a washed out leech want-to-be author who is living off his girlfriend. Eddie runs across an old acquaintance who offers to help him overcome his writer's block using a new drug that will "unlock his brain's potential." Meaning that Eddie will soon be using 100% of his brain instead of 20%. There are going to be ***SPOILERS*** below. Because you should never see this movie.

Now, let's just stop here. If you had a sudden infusion of brain power that made you five times smarter and gave you, as Eddie claims, a "four digit IQ" what would you do? Go on, pick a couple things. Write a book, maybe (Eddie does that). Solve world hunger? Cure cancer?

Eddie the Super Genius borrows a hundred grand from a violent Russian mobster. Because he's not making money fast enough on the stock market, where he is "quintupling" his investment every day. He's already up to 7 grand. But instead of waiting TWO DAYS to get to over 100 grand he borrows the money. FROM A VIOLENT RUSSIAN MOBSTER. Yes, that's right. Eddie is the dumbest smart person in the world. And then when he immediately quintuples his 100 grand he doesn't go pay the mob off. Because he wants to have a violent run in later.

Now that Eddie has a vicious gangster after him, he uses his enormous brain power to seduce some women, get rich, and make some party friends. Oh, and get his girlfriend back. And keep his other women on the side. And maybe kill one of those girls he meets at a party (he's experiencing some weird memory loss stuff by this point, a side effect of his genius. He's not sure if he killed her ). He does other smart stuff, too, like keep his entire stash of irreplaceable Smart Drugs hidden in one place. In a conch shell on his girlfriend's coffee table. And encouraging his girlfriend to try the drug, knowing that it causes sickness and death if you stop taking it, and he's running out of pills.

At this point, you start to suspect that maybe, just maybe, the filmmakers know what they are doing. You start to think, "Aha, what we have here is an unreliable narrator who is extolling the virtues of his drug because he's a junkie. The drug doesn't make him smart or invincible. It makes him feel smart and invincible. And eventually, like any junkie, he's going to hit bottom. And that will only be right and just and what happens in the real world."

Or, you know, he could easily overcome anything that comes after him, turn his rock bottom moment (which was absolutely disgusting) into a victory, and destroy all his opponents (who are mostly after him because he is the world's dumbest smart guy and he brought it on himself) by TAKING MORE DRUGS THAN THEM. Yeah. That's what happens.

The movie ends with the junkie claiming he's off the drugs. But you sort of doubt it. Oh, and he's on the road to the White House, because he's just that smart.


I suspect, by the way, that the original ending of the movie might have been bleak punishment for Eddie. Which is what should have happened, and I'm sure that's how the book ends. Thanks, Hollywood, for giving us a "happy" ending instead, where the moral of the movie is, "DO DRUGS! Do them at higher dosages and for longer periods of time and by more insane methods of ingestion than the people around you, and you will be a hero."

Which leads to the ultimate conclusion, which is that the best thing about this movie was the company I saw it with. I had fun, guys, thanks for inviting me. 

Sigh. Here's the trailer.Oh yeah. Robert deNiro does a cameo-ish appearance as Warren Buffet. To show how smart our hero is, that he can outsmart Bobby deNiro.


  1. Anonymous7:10 AM

    Saw it last night as well, and can fairly say that sums up my experience as well. Except without the benefit of good company (I went alone). What are these people thinking?

  2. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Should've seen Paul instead Matt. :)

  3. Now I'm completly not going to see this movie that I wouldn't have seen anyway because these kinds of movies don't strike me as interesting in the first place unless someone tells me from personal experience that it's an incredibly great movie that I can't miss because it's sooooo much better than you thought it was going to be from the promos and such. (Sorry. I think I was just having a flash back from when I read Billy Bathgate.)

  4. Ugh. I flipped past an ad for that last night and I actually recoiled from the television. Mostly because I think Bradley Cooper is the most smarmy actor on the planet, but I'm glad to know my instincts were correct.

  5. Anonymous9:59 PM

    Yup! It doesn't matter how much of your brain you used, there's always as ace hole that's smarter the you. I'm thankful to be dumb enough to be entertained by this stupid movie. I didn't feel I wasted any time or money watching it and really enjoyed it. Some people are so smart, they can't stop over analyzing every schit they come in contact with and what's worse get intellectually insulted, resulting in less enjoyment of life.

    Ignorance is trully bliz.

  6. Ha ha ha. Why on earth are you reading a review for a movie you've already seen? And probably nearly a year ago?

  7. Anonymous6:29 AM

    For me, the best part was the thug who gets killed by Bradley Cooper when he slams him through a glass window with the piano.

    Talk about making a grande exit.

  8. Anonymous1:35 AM

    You have a some flawed premises.
    "Washed out leach want to be author", meaning you find it difficult to believe someone down on their luck that far has any positive and productive values or goals... flawed

    "solve world hunger, cure cancer"
    Meaning you think Eddies priorities are lacking. Problem there is in the beginning of the movie he talks about his book, a utopian society. then "all of a sudden, i had this idea". his idea was "what if i actually do what i wrote about?". The rest of the movie you watch the steps he takes to get there. It's very subtle but beautifully placed.

    As for the mobster, I agree. That bothered me too. I wish they found a better means, but I feel they choose that amount because it was more relevant to the audience. 500k or more might seem too high and unrealistic to many people, even tho it fits in with his numbers. Plot Hole.

    Him going after women and getting his girlfriend back first is realistic; before good deeds. Eddie isn't a flawless super hero, he's just a regular joe who became super. and it's also smart to take care of your needs first before you go after larger goals.

    As for other minor mistakes like keeping his stash together... even geniuses over look small details. usually ones not relevant to their focuses or ones they are unfamiliar with. IE...misplacing glasses, things they need. or not knowing a trick of an unfamiliar trade, like how to hide drugs.

    Obviously the drug makes him smarter because he actually makes money through investments, and out thinks everyone in the movie. If he just Felt smarter he wouldn't have been able to do a quarter of the things he does. So that statement was wrong.

    He's on the road to the white house because it's part of his plan to make an utopian world.

    You obviously have problems with people who do drugs. Judging them as bad people or unproductive. When you think about it, a large portion of successful people do them, my point is that people can be productive on them.

    Also, I have a feeling you did/do drugs, alcohol, or something else, and don't want people to know. You know you should keep stashes separated and are overly emphasizing Junkie.

    Disgusting, sure if you can't see the beauty of it's genius.

    He's "dumb" because NZT didn't give him all the answers, it gave him the ability to figure them out when he had all the pieces. Mistakes are made so pieces can be found.

    This movie is not about a genius. It's about someone becoming a genius. Even geniuses make mistakes, and that's usually why they are geniuses.

  9. Anonymous1:43 AM

    BTW, I just realized you're Christian. Not knocking your faith, but it explains some of your reasoning. I know many (friends, non friend, etc), and there is a persistent disregard for reality in those groups. Like being revolted by blood instead of accepting it and moving forward to where you could have concluded yourself that drinking it would save his life.

    And the very anti-drug stance with built in guilt. Eddie used the drug to learn how to get over his problems, then used what he learned to get over his drug. Responsible.

    P.S. Not actually sure if my previous comment posted. Wrote a few min before this...