Sunday, 11 March 2012


I now turn to the three black humour comedies of the weekend with the most interesting Limitless where the subject is the extent of our unused brain power. It is a subject week covered in recent fiction films and television programmes, particularly the series the 4400 but also episodes in the X Files, Star Trek and Babylon 5. There is a new BBC series starting about the same subject where it is argued that we only consciously use about one fifth of the brain operating and storage power with the main function our subconscious accumulating information and memory banks in addition to parts which do not use and who purpose remain unknown.

I have previously expressed the view that perhaps we also genetically inherit the memories of ancestors which accounts for individuals believing they have lived before including recounting experiences under hypnosis. Even the interactions of those who do not have children live on in the memories of the others.

In Limitless Eddie is a writer and similar to You will meet a tall dark Stranger he has encountered a writer’s block. His publisher is anticipating a completed novel and he has not written a word. He has also separated from his girlfriend having been divorced from the ubiquitous Anna Friel. It is a chance meeting with his former brother in law, a man with whom he has nothing in common, which is to change his life in dramatic ways.

The man claims to have found a mind expanding designer drug and later Eddie is tempted to try out and is amazed at the impact. The brain becomes hyper sharp and active with the capacity to grasp the significance of vast quantities of information. The mind begins to function like a super analytical computer. He completes the first 90 pages of a book before stopping for sleep and his publisher is ecstatic and cannot wait to see the rest.

He visits the home of his brother in law to see if more of the substance is available but while he is out on an errand the man is murdered and the apartment ransacked but fortunately the stash of drugs remains to be found.

He decides to put his new powers to making money on the stock market and is so successful that he turns to a loan shark, a Russian mobster for a loan of one hundred thousand dollars. It is interesting the tendencies for Hollywood to now make the mobsters Russian rather Italian, Irish, Jewish or Spanish American. He quickly turns the money into two million attracting publicity and the attention of a speculating company trader, a kind of Wall Street, Wall Street Michael Douglas character.

They meet and he is offered the opportunity to test his ability with a mass of information about a company where the speculator wants to force a merger. Edie makes the mistake of increasing the dose and this send him on a wild period of eighteen hours, full of hallucinations, a fight in which he reproduces various boxing, Kung Fo and other Marshall Arts abilities from the memory of what he has seen performed by others, he goes dancing in a night club and stays over night with a woman he meets up.

There are three immediate consequences of this experience. First he has re-established contact with the girl friend who is impressed by his drive and success, speaking fluent Italian at a restaurant, or it may have been French. While they are not living together she is concerned about his sudden loss in contact and begins to questions his new personna.

Secondly the woman with whom he spent the night is murdered and it takes a lawyer to ensure that when he comes under suspicion there is no evidence against him.

He is reluctant to attend the meeting arranged with the head of the firm to be merged because of his condition but the research undertaken arouses his suspicion that the man had also discovered the properties of the drug amd has become a user to explain the rapid development of the comany. However he is able provide the guidance to achieve the merger on favourable terms and for this he is paid 40 million which means he can progress from a bodyguard to a fortress penthouse,

There are then a number of developments which appear to put his new position and wealth in jeopardy. The Russian wants his money back with interest which is no problem but in the process he tries one of the tablets and is most impressed by the experience and understandably wants more.

He has contact with his ex wife who reveals that she had also taken the drug provided by her brother but had managed to come off before it killed her. What he does is to acquire a lab to produce the drug but also to re-engineer to avoid the side effects. He reduces the dosage taken by making soluble and injecting which also has an impact quicker but lasts longer.

When asked to attend a line up re the murdered girl he changes his suit at the suggestion of the lawyer but when it is returned he finds the tablets in a secret pocket have been taken. He then sees the lawyer on TV acting for the man owning the merged company. There has also been an advance leak of the merger affecting share prices which the man who hired him takes exception believing he is the author and send him the chopped hand of his body guard as a warning.

He has been shadowed by someone who turns out to be the chauffer of the Merger Man who correctly was after a new supply of the drug. After the loss of the supply from his suit he asks his girlfriend to bring some stored in her flat and she intercepted by the chauffer and agrees to take one of the tablets to enable her to escape and reach him safely. The experience is sufficient to break off the relationship.

The Russian now breaks into his apartment mob handed for the drug and there is a fierce fight in which he manages to stab the Russian and although wounded he survives and overcomes the rest by drinking the blood of the dying Russian.

The Merger man dies and Eddie contacts the chauffer and advises that his employer was double crossed by the lawyer who had kept the drugs for his personal use. The man agrees to steal back the drugs taken by the lawyer.

A year passes and the book has been finished and published and is great success. He is standing for the Senate and all the Polls indicate a landslide victory. He is back with his girlfriend. He is approached by the lawyer who says he has acquired the firm with the lab preparing the drug which he has shut down. He will reopen if Eddie agrees to do favours as he becomes more and more powerful as a politician en route to the White House.

He refuses to be blackmailed. He says that he is now 50 moves ahead of the lawyer and all rivals. He had sent up other labs for such an eventuality but in any event as a result of work on the drug and his careful use he has reached the point where his brain functions at the highest level without the substance. He tells the man he has a serious heart condition which required immediate surgery.

The film ends with a celebratory meal with the girl friend and he now impresses her again by speaking fluent Chinese. We the audience are left wondering if he has become drug free or is remains as dependent as before. The film can be argued as one aspect of the American Dream

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