Limitless is well acted and visually interesting.
In terms of filmic technique, the story—such as it was—is well told.
I think that what this movie lacks for me is soul.
It starts out with the main character comparing himself to a bum; his hair’s a mess and he’s in a slump.
Then he takes a pill that causes his brain to function at a higher level. He can remember and make connections to things that were in his vision at one time, that he might not have even consciously thought about at the time he first saw them but now these things have all become a part of his vast resource of mind.
The first scene where he experiences this effect, he uses his vast cranial resources to impress a woman, leading to inappropriate sex with her. This kind of thing happens throughout the movie: he uses increased brainpower to gain personal advantage.
There is also a girlfriend in the movie, and she only seems to like him when he’s in a successful moment. But when she finds out about the drugs, she doesn’t like that.
In terms of higher brain function, it reminded me of something I had read in Moola Bandha, The Master Key, by Swami Buddhananda:
…the practice of moola bandha also represents a contraction of certain switches in the brain, which stimulate physical, mental and spiritual relaxation. Also, hitherto dormant areas of the brain (an estimated 90%) begin to plug into conscious awareness, increasing our ability to live life fully.
The above is a description of a possible effect of a yogic technique. The movie was telling about a pharmaceutical solution. Another difference is that, in the movie the main character is jacked up for practically the whole movie. And his life really started to straighten out—once he got medicated. With moola bandha the better brain effects come through deep relaxation.
And I know it’s because of my experience with yoga, that I was disappointed by where the movie went with the expansion of mind story. I think that if a person experienced a true expansion of mind that this person would become more compassionate, but Eddie—excellently played by Bradley Cooper (hot!)—seemed to become more ruthless. The drugged Eddie was modeled after a super-caffeinated, and always “on” hotshot business guy/politician.
The movie does leave a lot of loose ends, though. We don’t know where Mr. Super-Brain is taking us at the end, other than he is shooting for the ultimate success as an elected official.
There was a moment earlier in the film where he took a risky dive off a rocky cliff, and when he swam to the surface of the water it seemed to have resulted in a eureka moment. He has an idea that he needs a lot of money for. That’s all we learn at that time, and as I was watching I thought that perhaps he had solved the problem of world hunger or fossil fuels.
But, even at the end of the movie, Eddie is using his smarts for domination. He is out to win. I’m not sure that he cares about anybody.
He has increased smarts, but his humanity remains stunted.
* for more about mulabandha, check out mulabloga *