Limitless is a 2011 film about a revolutionary smart drug and a man who takes it. I enjoyed watching it.
It's beautifully shot, has topical subject matter and is inspiring.
It's also disappointingly normative.
In short, it's where transhumanism often fails
The Future! Like Today, Only... uh... More!
(I'd really like a link to the stuff trans people are doing to control our own healthcare)
Eddie is a New York novelist who can't get anything done and whose life is falling apart. On a fluke, he gets introduced to a miracle smart drug that boosts his cognitive abilities and allows him to pull his life back together - at a terrible price.
The cinematography is phenomenal. It integrates colour, digital effects, perspective, film speed, depth of field and all the other stuff we learned in film school. It creates "subjective camerawork" to put us inside his head and share his altered state of consciousness with the audi
I'm also glad to see a movie about smart drugs - promising, untested, useful, possibly addictive or dangerous.
Eddie, when he's on smart drugs, makes a fine study for confidence and high-status behaviour.
But it's normative. Ther'es no imagination in where Eddie goes.
When he's boosted, Eddie only seeks status and follows the American dream - money, women, power. He's not an asshole, but he does get involved in backhanded deals in the oil business. He doesn't change or question his values. He sells his novel, gets laid, beats the bad guy and thinks about running for office - although it's not clear what he would do once in office. Which is scary, as it seems that he wants power for its own sake.
You might think this makes sense - someone getting smarter doesn't make them wiser, right? Valid. But then why does on-drugs-Eddie suddenly clean his apartment, develop remarkable focus, interpersonal skills and gain perspective on his relationships? The implied message is that he does become wiser, and that it is wise to seek power for its own sake. Scary.
Drugs, money and women? I'd like to see a movie where Eddie uses smart drugs and figures out how to use them wisely, test them and share them with people who have a personal stake in ending exploitation. I'd like to see him experiment with sex/sensuality/intimacy outside of one-night-stands and one LTR (with young, thin women with nice apartments), questioning his assumptions around emotional connection, gender, beauty and pleasure. Power? Sure. But to share, to network, to change the world.
I've been told that my movie ideas are too political; that politics intrudes on story. This is sometimes true. But here, I think politics would make for a better story. Once Eddie has defeated some people who are trying to hurt him, he has a fine future largely guaranteed. There are no more stakes, and the movie ends. Eddie doesn't change. He's basically the same guy he was after his first hit, only established, stable - which is cool, but the movie doesn't seem to get that this is the case, like we are supposed to view him as a transformed hero. That's sloppy storytelling.
But an Eddie who started asking some hard questions about his life and values, then implementing them? That would make for entertaining watching because there would be long term character growth and huge stakes. You could not only make an entire series out of that, you could take the audience along for a ride of personal and oscial improvement.
So why doesn't it go there? I think because whatever body vetted the final script was some combination of invested in the status quo and/or afraid that the audience "wouldn't get it" otherwise.
I guess this is why I have a movie production company.