Minority Report, Lucifer, Blindspot… Limitless is the fourth pilot this season that pairs a reluctant detective with a character who wields some kind of special ability. Have the networks simply run out of ideas? It sure seems like it!
On the bright side, Limitless is a very entertaining ride about a failed musician who discovers a mysterious drug called NZT (and all the abilities that come with it). The greatest thing the pilot has going for it is a truly gorgeous visual palette. The show does a superb job of visualising Brian’s world with a host of nifty on-screen touches (pop-up bits, a funky chase sequence with different outcomes, and multiple Brians debating their next move). It’s just a very vibrant opener across the board with a range of eye-catching flourishes.
Jake McDorman does an okay enough job as our hero, but I didn’t find him to be the most charismatic of actors (as opposed to say Tom Ellis who was a certified revelation on Lucifer). Jennifer Carpenter however is downright atrocious in the role of Rebecca, the FBI detective tasked with following Brian. Carpenter just looks bored the whole way through, and I didn’t buy her dynamic with Brian for a second. As for the rest of the cast, Bradley Cooper makes a brief appearance (he headlined the 2011 film that the show is based on) but he doesn’t leave the biggest impression. Ron Rifkin (who was a chilling force on Alias) tries his best, but he’s saddled with a dull role that rivals his dreadful character on Brothers and Sisters.
The pilot’s final moments (which I won’t spoil here) hint at a personal vendetta concerning Rebecca and NZT, but it’s certainly not a big enough cliffhanger to reel me in for the long run. Thankfully, the fast pacing means you never really have time to overthink things as the show briskly zips from one scene to the other.
While it’s not as thrilling as I would have liked, Limitless holds enough potential to warrant a few more episodes. The slick production and fast pacing certainly help mask the show’s more generic elements.