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.