‘Limitless’ Review: It’s Still a Galaxy-Brain Classic 10 Years Later

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Except obviously he can’t be trapped in his limitlessnessEddie isn’t the only person who’s discovered NZT. The Russian gangster he borrowed money from to get his financial career off the ground got a hold of the drug and now chases Eddie around town, always wanting more. The man Carl Van Loon’s negotiating with came out of nowhere to become a tycoon in a few short years, another clandestine product of NZT. At one point, Eddie’s girlfriend (Abby Cornish) finds herself chased by a Bad Guy because she’s unwittingly carrying the drug. Eddie instructs her to take a pill if she wants to get herself out of this mess, which leads us to the greatest scene in film history involving someone who suffers an injury from a child’s ice skate

The bad stuff keeps coming. Eddie’s ex-wife reveals that lots of guinea pigs took it and died from the withdrawal, that she herself was on NZT and survived, but at the expense of her concentration. We knew a crisis would come from the film’s opening sequence, which shows Eddie on the edge of a balcony, ready to jump before the people drilling into the door of his supposedly impenetrable penthouse get their hands on him. It’s a sobering, authentic turn in an addiction narrative, one that sticks to the story told in the source material, the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a limitless upward spiral. 

But the strangest thing about Limitless, a fact that scrambles my meager, underutilized brain every time I think about it, which is too often, is that it has a happy ending. Eddie Morra figures it out. He doesn’t jump to his death. Having exhausted his supply of NZT and suffering from withdrawal symptoms, he faces the Russian gangsters who knocked down his door. He kills the lead gangster, and, realizing it’s his ONLY choice, drinks the NZT-rich blood spilled over the floor, giving him the intelligence and strength required to take out the other goons and survive another day, though given the circumstances that led him to this point, it seems unlikely to be more than a temporary reprieve. 

We’ll never know exactly what happened next. This abrupt breakthrough prompts a leap into the future, when we see Eddie continuing his unstoppable rocket ship ride to the outer reaches of wealth and power. Unlike his counterpart from The Dark Fields, he has it all. He’s not a writer anymore, thank god, but an independently wealthy politician. He’s slept with everyone he could possibly want, and now has the love of his life back by his side. He’s so smart that he outwits the mighty Carl Van Loon in a scene where he, a) predicts a car crash, and b) diagnoses Carl’s heart condition simply by feeling his chest. Van Loon’s only got a year to live! Eddie even tells Carl that he doesn’t need the drugs because his brain synapses have transformed so much. He’s not an addict at all. The crimes he committed were mere speed bumps on his road to becoming so smart he can rule all of America. The best part is that, like the rest of America in the past decade, he can just keep doing what he’s doing, expecting no negative consequences and seeing no good reason to change his approach, despite the tangible destruction he’s wrought. 

In the end, not only does Eddie become his best self when he’s on NZT, he’s also the best in the world at using NZT. Where others have died or become incapacitated through overuse and withdrawal, Eddie has thrived. He’s off the drugs, or if he isn’t, he’s figured out a way to manage his use so that it doesn’t destroy his life. He doesn’t just assimilate to society’s demands, he dominates them without questioning their value. Unlike Fight Club, which suggests destroying credit card companies, Limitless proposes joining them. Eddie Morra used his unfettered intelligence to get super rich, and now he’s going to be president. He’ll know exactly which wedding to drone strike, because he’s so smart he can see the future child of the union committing terrorist acts against the United States of America. OK, that last part isn’t in the movie, but after 10 years, it’s time for a sequel. There’s no such thing as too much Limitless

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