Every now and again you get one of those days when you feel truly on top of your game. You make all the green lights, you astound your coworkers, and you present new ideas in a manner that makes it impossible for anyone to say no.
Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is desperately in need of one of those days. Amazingly, the depressed and creatively challenged writer has a book deal, yet he hasn’t written a single word—and his first submission is due. That’s when he bumps into his ex-wife’s brother Vern (Johnny Whitworth), a guy who says he’s retired from drug dealing but then pulls a little pill out of his pocket. Vern claims it will fix all of Eddie’s problems and allow him to use 100% of his brainpower (as opposed to the 10% myth). He also says it’s FDA approved.
Instantly confirming his lack of mental capacity, Eddie downs the mysterious medicine. Minutes later he sees the world in a completely different way. His writer’s block is gone, he becomes adept at trading stocks and his intellectual prowess allows him to bed a bevy of less intelligent women. Still, being smart and possessing wisdom are two very different things. This newly hatched genius demonstrates this fact when he borrows $100,000 of investment capital from a loan shark.
The money turns him into a much sought after financial expert and a new job with a prominent business tycoon (Robert De Niro). However, things begin taking unexpected turns when Eddie discovers his brother-in-law is murdered and the pills are anything but FDA approved. Worse yet, when his loan provider gets hold of one of the tablets, he wants a guaranteed supply as well. Then Eddie learns of the drug’s inevitable side affect: Serious illness usually leading to death.
Limitless presents an intriguing premise, but Eddie’s reliance on what amounts to a potentially dangerous street drug is disturbing—especially considering the movie’s all-too-easy conclusion. The moment he runs out of pills he scrambles to find more, even after discovering the long-term results of its use. Other content concerns are just as worrisome. Copious amounts of blood stain this film during frequent violent altercations. More disturbing moments depict innocent people being shot and stabbed (one with implied comedic benefit), and a man teetering at the top of a building considering suicide.
Eddie’s promiscuous sexual habits are another issue, with scenes showing him confidently seducing various women. Only language is marginally better (and possibly what saved this film from an R-rating) with scatological, religious and other profanities infrequently heard.
While the drug depicted in this film is purely fictitious, there are certainly many pills on the streets of reality with promises just as grandiose as this one. The tremendous benefits the protagonist of this film acquires and the lack of consequences presented, give this movie limitless potential to imply to susceptible audiences that drugs are an easy answer to life’s tough questions.