Reboots are all very well, but this TV show version of Limitless has taken the far more interesting route of being a straight-up sequel to the movie, rather than some unnecessary “re-imagining”. The basic set-up is similar: a charming slacker takes a pill which super-charges his brain and grants him almost inhuman levels of awesomeness. But the fact that it all unfolds in the exact same universe as before means we’ll get to explore more of the mysterious backstory and mythology set up in the movie.
The other great thing about it being a sequel rather than a remake is we’ll get to see Bradley Cooper reprise the role of Eddie Morra, who’s now a US senator and acts as a mentor-of-sorts to new pill-popper Brian Finch. His presence is reason enough to tune into the first episode.
It’s actually funny
The show follows our hero, Brian Finch, as he’s taken on as a consultant to the FBI, using his newfound brainy brilliance to crack some marvellously tough cases. Which sounds like we’re in textbook procedural territory, but Limitless isn’t constrained by the, er, limits of the genre. What we’re saying is, it’s incredibly funny. Some critics have hailed it as a crime procedural for the Millennial generation, full of pop-cultural in-jokes and fourth-wall-breaking cleverness.
Just to give a particularly wonderful example, one of the episodes is a full-on homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, even giving us a Limitless-flavoured version of the 80s classic’s iconic opening sequence. The whole show has a cocky sense of humour that really sets it apart from standard no-nonsense procedurals, and will have you snorting into your tea throughout every episode.
The hero is a regular joe
Outrageously talented super-sleuths are a staple of crime dramas, but Brian Finch in Limitless is different in one essential way: he’s a just a regular guy. One with excellent cheekbones, to be sure (hey, this IS a TV show), but essentially an everyday person with everyday interests, like guitar playing and girls. Which is actually pretty refreshing.
Brian’s not a socially awkward oddball like Monk, or a scowling grump like Sherlock, or a James Bond-style smoothie like The Mentalist. And he’s certainly not a schizophrenic neuropsychiatrist like the bedraggled bloke in Perception. Nope, our Brian is just a loveable loser who’s become extraordinary through a quirk of fate, and is basically chancing/blundering his way through various misadventures. Finally, someone we can really identify with!
The cast kicks butt
OK, so you’ve probably never heard of Jake McDorman, but rest assured he is absolutely ace in the role of Brian Finch. He channels just enough of the old Bradley Cooper confidence from the Limitless movie, but with a kind of vulnerable charm and cheeky swagger that’s entirely his own. His presence alone elevates things beyond basic procedural stuff, but we’ve also got Jennifer Carpenter – yes, Debra from Dexter – perfectly cast as his FBI agent partner. Plus, look out for big screen star Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as a law enforcement bigwig. Certainly a far cry from her turn as Tony Montana’s sister in Scarface…
It all looks awesome
You wouldn’t think a show about a man popping pills and solving crimes would lend itself to sleek special effects and exhilarating action. But Limitless has all that in spades. Taking its cue from the movie, it has all kinds of whooshing, head-spinning sequences that convey our hero’s frantic state of mind.
Filmmaker Marc Webb, who gave us The Amazing Spider-Man, directs the opening episode, and it really does show. This cinematic style is also used to comic effect, with chortlesome montages and animated sequences that make the whole thing altogether addictive.
Limitless starts on Wednesday 17th February at 9pm on Sky 1. Also available after broadcast in Sky On Demand.
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