Reason: New scientific research is shattering conventional wisdom about the human body and offering fascinating insights into how we can all unlock our bodies’ superpowers to fight disease, perform better and even reverse the aging process! This science is put to the test by Hemsworth who, despite being in peak superhero mode, is on a personal mission to learn how to stay young, healthy, strong and resilient. Undergoing a series of epic trials and extraordinary challenges to understand the limits of the human body, he learns firsthand how we can live better for longer by discovering ways to regenerate damage, maximize strength, build resilience, leave memory and confront mortality.
Review: The idea of celebrities using their fame as a platform to promote a social agenda is nothing new. In the past, famous people have used the brand awareness of their face or voice to contribute to political campaigns and documentaries. In recent years, as the rise of streaming platforms has necessitated tons of programming of all kinds, actors have been able to pursue pet projects in the form of limited and ongoing series. The latest to join the trend is Chris Hemsworth which headlines the National Geographic limited series Boundless. Centered on the idea of living longer and healthier lives, the series focuses each episode on a specific challenge for your personal well-being and explores how to change negative behaviors.
Similar to Will Smith’s National Geographic series Welcome to earth, limitless combines scientific research and information combined with the host navigating a real-world challenge tied to the specific episode’s theme. Where Welcome to Earth found Will Smith through some of the most remote and challenging terrain on the planet, Boundless puts Chris Hemsworth up against various challenges for mental and physical well-being. Some of the challenges are more intense than others, but all are mined for maximum cinematic value, continuing the long-standing quality eye candy that National Geographic has become associated with. Boundless also shares a production company with Will Smith’s Endeavor and an executive producer with an acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofsky.
For the six-episode series (five of which were made available for this review), Chris Hemsworth endures experiments, exercises, challenges and more to explore cutting-edge scientific research into maintaining health in old age. Each episode focuses on a unique aspect of human aging, with Hemsworth himself both narrating and taking part in the journey. While the Thor actor is in top physical condition, this series shows his own concerns and limitations that some of us may take for granted. In the first episode, “Stress-Proof,” Hemsworth talks at length about the purpose and goal of the series as well as showing his own vulnerabilities. Collaboration with Dr. Modupe Akinola, Hemsworth subjects himself to activities such as holding his breath while restrained and many more tests leading up to the final challenge involving scaling the highest point of a skyscraper. The missions are carried out with maximum safety and security measures, but the high quality of the cinematography gives this series a beautiful and immersive feel.
The episodes feature Hemsworth and his close friends and family, including appearances by his brothers, Liam and Luke, and his wife, Elsa Pataky. The three Hemsworth siblings explore the Arctic in the second episode, “Shock,” while Pataky is a key player in the final episode, “Acceptance,” which takes a cheekier and slightly different approach to the series with a challenge that’s less death-defying and more humbling. The episodes also feature Chris spearfishing off the Great Barrier Reef and performing a 100-foot rope climb while preparing for the physical demands of filming Thor: Love and Thunderr. Each episode runs a full hour or longer and features at least one medical or scientific expert collaborating with Hemsworth to present the episode. Each post features voiceovers by Chris and interviews with experts, lending a lot of credibility to the entire series.
There’s a lot of indulgence in a series like this, but Chris Hemsworth also has an effortless charm about him, just like Will Smith carried his docu-series on NatGeo. Hemsworth never pretends to be an expert on the subjects he presents, but he has first-hand experience enduring them as much as any living person. Seeing the MCU’s heroic god character in this light provides a humbling experience that allows audiences to relate to him more as a human being rather than a celebrity on an altar of fame. Still, Limitless is a heavily produced docu-series that caters to the star and makes sure it presents him as an authority as much as it puts him in any kind of danger. The stakes never really feel that dangerous, even though what Hemsworth and the crew had to do to film these episodes was completely real.
Boundless certainly has its limits, but also puts a lot of emphasis on Chris Hemsworth’s star power. If this series had been hosted by anyone else, it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as watchable. Hemsworth is as charismatic in action as he is in “real life,” and this series will cement the affection of those who love him. As a documentary work, this is a beautifully filmed series that has some solid information behind it, but it is far from an unbiased and balanced work of non-fiction. There is a message in this series, and it is a compelling one. Some may argue about the legitimacy of some of the facts that the experts present here, but even if you don’t agree with what they explain, this is an enjoyable watch that will give everyone a little boost to take care of themselves and strive to live healthier and longer. For that alone, this series is worth watching.
Unlimited with Chris Hemsworth premiered on November 16 at Disney+.