‘Limitless’ Plot & Spoilers: Producer Alex Kurtzman Gives Cast & Story Teasers

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »


The myth that we only use a small percentage of our brain’s capacity has been debunked over and over again, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a well-trodden trope in pop culture. CBS on Tuesday hopes that Limitless, a new drama series follow-up to the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie, will put a new spin on its tried-and-true procedural.The big-time film star is executive producer of the series and even has a recurring role as Eddie Morra, now a senator and possible presidential candidate, his eyes still a preternaturally electric blue — a sign of using NZT-48, the experimental drug that boosts brain power.Four years after Bradley Cooper starred in the story of a mysterious brain-boosting pill that allowed people to use 100 percent of their mental functions, a new CBS show is picking up the drama of “Limitless.” It’s based on a struggling musician who finds the drug and all its power. “Limitless” co-stars Jake McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter join “CBS This Morning” to discuss their new roles.

Jake McDorman (“Manhattan Love Story”) stars as Brian Finch, a 30-something “musician” — even he can’t convince himself of that anymore, much less his loving family. Last year, Fargo knocked our socks off with a sweeping, clever crime yarn and an inventive aesthetic inspired by the work of the show’s spiritual godfathers, the Coen brothers.

The drama, which counts Cooper as an executive producer, builds on the world depicted in the feature film but centers on Brian Finch (Jake McDorman, Shameless, Manhattan Love Story), a slacker who puts his hopes and dreams in a musical career that likely will never take off because of his crappy work ethic. When his father becomes critically ill, Brian becomes despondent, until an ex-bandmate now turned successful businessman offers him a pill — “a jump-start,” he calls it. And in the 2011 movie Limitless, a designer drug named NZT allowed Bradley Cooper to unlock the full potential of his mind, giving him a superhuman memory and powers of deduction.

You, on the other hand, deserve a warning: “Limitless” may give you an immediate high, but side effects may include listlessness, dangerous plot holes and a sinking feeling you’ve wasted an hour of your life. Limitless is a sequel to the film, inasmuch as it takes place within the world created by the movie and even features Cooper as his character in a recurring cameo.

He uses them to 1.) try to untangle the central mystery of the show, 2.) wow strangers with impromptu guitar solos and 3.) solve crimes for the F.B.I CRITICS SAY: The drama’s “flourishes won’t help if ‘Limitless’ becomes merely a crime-of-the-week show,” Neil Genzlinger wrote in The Times. “The series, though, seems more ambitious than that, with its conspiracy-theory threads about where NZT comes from and who controls the supply.” Elsewhere: Admirers like the slickness of the first episode and Mr. Even though Brian is our hero, we still get a glimpse of Cooper’s face within the first 30 seconds of the episode, as Brian dashes past a campaign poster for the re-election of Senator Edward Morra. (Fun fact: Morra’s campaign photo is lifted directly from the original Limitless poster.) Brian manages to lose the suits, but as he ducks into the subway to make his escape, he’s stopped at gunpoint by FBI agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter from Dexter). The pilot is breezy fun and the cast includes other engaging performers, like Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”) and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (“Grimm,” your favorite movies from the ’80s).

Like most superheroes who must learn that with great power comes great responsibility, Brian initially spends his windfall of I.Q. points on irresponsible pursuits – and some decent ones too (he’s got a good heart, don’t you know) – but then conscience takes over completely and righteous but modest callings tug at him. So now, he’s stuck explaining to his family that he’s not in a band — it’s a “project” — and he’s working on an album that doesn’t exist. To make matters worse, his father’s suffering from a mysterious illness, and his only job is a temporary gig at a big bank, where he’s tasked with filing 22,000 personnel forms. It’s there that he runs into his old friend Eli, and the former-musician-turned-Wall-Street-hotshot takes pity on poor, sad Brian, offering him a small clear pill to “jump-start” his life.

Eventually, he meets Cooper’s character, a wise Jedi strong with the NZT force who may or may not be a reliable Obi-Wan for our suddenly skywalking hero. When the pill (finally) kicks in, he’s suddenly conversing with himself, and he finds himself recalling every thought he’s ever had. “The scales fell from my eyes,” Brian explains. “Your brain is a miracle, but it’s not efficient. But now suddenly, I had access to every single brain cell.” When Brian’s on NZT, the viewer sees the world through his eyes, as the dull, gray colors of before turn vibrant, with a distinct orange tint.

At the risk of being equally limited with my expression of critical imagination, let me trump all other reviews by telling that the real problem with Limitless is that it’s … limited … in … uh … oh, you know. There’s nothing that we’re saying, “That’s not how it works.” We’re adjusting the tone to more storytelling like we want to do, but we kept everything the same in terms of rules for the universe. By the time he comes down from the NZT — with a hell of a hangover — he’s figured out that his father has hemochromatosis, a hereditary and commonly misdiagnosed disease. Surprise, surprise, Brian’s right (his tiny smile when his suspicions are confirmed is hilarious), but it means his father will need a liver transplant ASAP.

The pilot was directed by Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man), and it’s an appropriate choice, considering how much the episode feels like a superhero origin story. The only difference is that Brian doesn’t actually have any physical superpowers; instead, he just knows exactly how to maximize the strength he already has. He uses that strength to effortlessly calculate an escape route, and we’re back where we started, facing off against Agent Harris. (Again, there’s a nice switch between the gray/blue colors of the regular scenes and the warm orange of Brian’s NZT perspective.) As the two of them stare each other down, something in his eyes unnerves her, and he makes his escape, calmly waiting for a hurtling subway train to stop inches from his face. Cut to Agent Harris’ office, where she and her FBI colleagues try to piece together what the hell just happened and how Brian wasn’t smushed by an enormous subway car.

Her boss (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) gives some very helpful exposition, explaining that in 2011 (hey, that’s the year the movie came out!), the FBI picked up a dealer carrying a drug he called NZT-48. Recognizing its potential as a cognitive enhancement, the FBI started a test program, recruiting volunteers from within its own ranks, but the program was shut down after the “first two fatalities.” So the question is: Who’s Brian, and how is he connected to NZT? While the FBI is busy trying to catch up, Brian scrolls through Eli’s phone to deduce that there are two other bankers at the same firm who are also regular NZT users: Jay Winston and Adam Honeycutt. (You’d think that someone on NZT would be a little more secretive and not send such obviously expository text messages, but whatever.) Brian makes his way to the Soho hotel where Winston is living, which is where he finds Winston’s body. It’s staged as a suicide, but Brian knows better, so he breaks into Rebecca’s house to formally introduce himself (like a gentleman) and ask for her help.

We continue to play with that with Eddie’s character but Brian is a different character altogether and it’s very important to Brian to maintain a connection to who he was before he started taking NZT. When he cracks it open to discover a secret stash of Benjamins, plus Eli’s bloody money clip, Honeycutt shoots him in the leg, chasing him out into the street. There, Honeycutt politely explains that yes, he did kill both Eli and Jay for their NZT, and he’ll probably kill Brian too, if his leg wound doesn’t finish him off first. TV shows like Minority Report, Chuck, or CBS’ previous attempt the Limitless concept, Intelligence, go the opposite direction: They offer the assurance of a knowable universe and that all chaos can be quelled.

I don’t know if I can give it up.” That’s when Eddie nonchalantly explains the secret of his success: He’s taken a pill every morning for the past four years, and he’s never felt better — with the exception of one headache two years ago. It is not widely available; the street availability has been clamped down by a few people but there is knowledge of the existence of the drug within a few select circles. Even though repeated NZT use will rot your insides, Eddie has invested millions of dollars into private research, and his team has invented a simple cure. “Every so often, you take one of these shots, and you can have as much NZT as you want with no side effects,” he tells Brian.

Eddie mysteriously explains that he’ll soon need someone with Brian’s skills, adding that if he breathes a word of this conversation to anyone, he’ll die a slow and painful death. To do so, he walks into a bank and commits the most cheerful, considerate bank robbery ever, patiently waiting for Rebecca to arrive so they can crack open Honeycutt’s safety deposit box. Because he’s “immune,” Rebecca’s boss sees him as a valuable tool in the quest to take down the original creator of NZT, whose identity is “still a mystery, by the way.” Rebecca’s uneasy about using Brian as a lab rat, so she suggests a compromise: They can only study him if they put him to work, and she volunteers to be his handler. She believes her father was on NZT, and although he ended up dead, she’s determined to figure out what happened to him. “I couldn’t help my father,” she tells Brian. “But maybe I can help you.” And so, we have television’s newest crime-fighting duo: the drugged-up supergenius and his brave FBI handler. He can’t transcend physics when he’s on the drug so he doesn’t become a superhero and there are definitely limitations to it, but it really is about finding problems that are worthy of a guy who has such a tool at his disposal.

There’s a lot they can’t tell each other but they’re both decent people and they develop a bond, a trust with one another which ultimately will be stronger in the end. If you didn’t see the movie, you won’t be behind because it’s not a requirement that you’re familiar with the movie to watch our show but I think you should watch it because it’s a fresh and fun take on the content of the original.

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