They never give us a date when the new Bradley Cooper movie Limitless takes place, but I get a feeling it’s a period piece from around the 1994 era. When the movie starts Cooper is a writer with a book deal who looks like he maybe played bass for a really bad grunge band. None of his communication comes via cell phone, e-mail, or text message, but is rather left on his answering machine. Isn’t an answering machine to today’s youth as foreign as a phonograph, corset, or laser disc player?
The script also seems like it’s from 1994 and I mean that as a compliment. Instead of relying on a gimmicky surprise twist like so many thrillers post The Usual Suspects, Limitless is willing to throw its protagonist into a high concept situation and see where it takes him. Cooper plays a writer with nothing to say. He runs into his ex-brother-in-law on the street who offers him a drug that allows you to utilize a greater portion of your brain. Once on the drug he gets super-smart which gives him insight into three truths; women will open their legs to you if you show confidence, the stock market is rigged, and being a writer is a waste of one’s intellect.
But do not worry Puritans, this movie’s message is not purely pro-drug. This drug has side effects which causes memory loss, nausea, and the eventual comedown that makes one look like a crackhead. But the drug’s high is so grand others want it which finds our hero on the run uncertain of who he is running from.
The soundtrack and the direction are of a more recent vintage. The director proudly wears his David Fincher influence on his sleeve. There are bare knuckle brawls to be had, amnesia, and homoerotic relationships that will change your life. The director is also not afraid to use special effects to ensure there is never a dull moment. The clarity of the film stock goes abruptly from dark and grimy to sunshiny bright to signify the drug has entered a user’s bloodstream.
When you look at the movie in its entirety there are a couple holes in the plot, but I still really like the moral. Technology that came out after 1994 causes us to use less of our brains.