All The Tropes Wiki
All The Tropes Wiki
Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting

File:220px-Limitless Poster 4395.jpg

Limitless is a 2011 American techno-thriller film directed by Neil Burger and starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Robert De Niro. It is based on the 2001 novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn with the screenplay by Leslie Dixon. The film was released in the United States and Canada on March 18, 2011, and in the United Kingdom on March 23, 2011.

Aspiring author Eddie Morra (Cooper) is suffering from chronic writer's block, but his life changes instantly when an old friend introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical that allows him to tap his full potential. With every synapse crackling, Eddie can recall everything he has ever read, seen or heard, learn any language in a day, comprehend complex equations and beguile anyone he meets as long as he keeps taking the untested drug. Soon Eddie takes Wall Street by storm, parlaying a small stake into millions. His accomplishments catch the eye of mega-mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro),who invites him to help broker the largest merger in corporate history. But they also bring Eddie to the attention of people willing to do anything to get their hands on his stash of NZT. With his life in jeopardy and the drug's brutal side effects grinding him down, Eddie dodges mysterious stalkers, a vicious gangster and an intense police investigation as he attempts to hang on to his dwindling supply long enough to outwit his enemies.

This film features examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Eddie offers his boss a toast point when they are at the restaurant just before having lunch with Carl. Toast points were the Trademark Favorite Food of Baracus in The a Team, in which Bradley Cooper starred as Face.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: To have Super Intelligence goes right to any consumer of NZT’s head: Everyone becomes Drunk with Power, alienates his friends to be In with the In Crowd (only to discover that it's Lonely At the Top), and becomes a Sharp-Dressed Man.
  • Anti-Hero: Eddie, by virtue of being A Lighter Shade of Grey.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The NZT-48 pills.
  • Artistic License Biology: The film is based around the 90% of Your Brain myth.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: What happens when apparently anyone takes a NZT pill.
  • Being Watched
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Eddie and Lindy in a restaurant.
  • The Cast Showoff: Bradley Cooper speaking fluent French, which he does in real life.
  • The Chessmaster: The Russian develops into one by the last act.
  • Color Wash: Used deliberately when someone is on NZT. When someone is on NZT, the colors are vamped up and look more contrasting, showing their heightened self-awareness, whilst off NZT the colors are natural and dull.
  • Cunning Linguist: Eddie is able to pick up languages just by listening to them being spoken, and speaks excellent French and Italian (but atrocious Mandarin Chinese).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Eddie's ex-wife is burned out on NZT, not crystal meth.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Played with. The movie shows the consequences of abusing the drug in very icky detail that sometimes enters Requiem for a Dream territory. But Eddie's much more capable and hyperintelligent when on said drugs, he's trying to quit them that turns things worse, and it finally turns out he can remain super-smart without taking the drug at all or he used the intelligence boost to figure out how to make it himself while fixing the downsides. Could possibly be a Broken Aesop.
  • Dumbass No More: The premise of the film, though notably the guy who gets the full benefits of the drug is the one who was already an educated aspiring author; his similarly educated ex-wife is also notable for seemingly being the only character to recognize that the drug was too dangerous to keep using. The Russian loan shark is the best example of someone who was actually a bit dumb, and noticeably while he is far smarter than he was before, he is still not comparable to Eddie, as one of his newest
  • Executive Meddling: The film's original, darker ending that was closer to the source material was changed after it didn't test well (combined with the writer and director not really liking it). The film's actual ending ends up sticking out like a sore thumb.
  • Eye Scream: When Eddie sticks the needle in the eye of the Mafia thug.
  • Flipping the Bird: The loan shark opens Eddie's safe to find severed hands flipping him off.
  • Foreshadowing: Done interestingly since the movie opens In Medias Res: Eddie jumping off the cliff into the sea foreshadows his apparent suicide jump that opens the movie.
    • Also makes for a nice trailer spot.
    • After he takes NZT and before he decides to get rich, Eddie has a conversation about the rise and fall of the Portuguese Empire: How some guys that nobody expected capable of anything take over the world for a few centuries, and as suddenly as they took charge, all his accomplishments vanish into nothing. As he puts it, "it's human nature to over-reach".
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Russian who took NZT suddenly becomes a wealthy and powerful crime boss. And by the time the TV series rolls around, Eddie has become the US Senator and now has the potential to become President.
  • Good with Numbers
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The movie's moral outlook is openly cynical, with both the hero and his antagonists indulging in very shady business.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Robert DeNiro's character lectures Eddie about how he lacks the experience to use his talent and genius to full effect. He's wrong.
  • How We Got Here: The opener of the movie is Eddie Morra standing on a high ledge, thinking back to everything that put him there.
  • Hyper Awareness
  • Idiot Ball: Eddie makes some dumb decisions for a guy with a four-digit IQ, though the pills do apparently give the user a feeling of invincibility.
    • Eddie could have avoided a lot of problems if he had just paid the Russian loanshark back as soon as he had the money. Or just been a little more patient. He quadrupled his money in three days, all he need was another three days, and he would've had the 100K all on his own, without needing to pay loan shark-level interest or get involved in crime.
    • More fundamentally, before he even takes his second pill, he's aware A) that there are people willing to kill for these pills, and they might be aware of him, and B) that he has a limited supply of the pills, and no clue where to get more. Despite being a super-genius, he apparently doesn't even worry about these issues or how best to resolve them, until forced to. Driving a Maserati real fast is more important.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Eddie figures out how to fight by recalling Bruce Lee films and self-defense videos.
  • Improbably High IQ: Eddie describes himself as having a "four digit IQ," which is for all intents and purposes impossible. Granted it could've just have been a deliberate exaggeration to make the point that his IQ was too high to be measured.
  • Improvised Weapon: The movie involves fighting with syringes, pianos, and a little girl on ice skates.
  • In Medias Res: The film opens with Eddie in his apartment as the Russian and his thugs are about to break in, contemplating suicide by jumping.
  • Insecurity System: Eddie's "fortress" of a condo apparently doesn't even have an alarm.
  • Instant Expert: NZT-48 allows Eddie to develop expertise in just about any field (from Mandarin to economics) in a matter of hours.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Though his life goes through hell for a while, Eddie still gets away with removing evidence from the scene of a murder, sleeping with a married woman, cheating on his own girlfriend after they get back together, possibly murdering the girl he cheated with (he can't remember if he did it, but he was probably there at least), and taking and manufacturing illegal drugs by the end of the film.
    • Also the mook who stalks Eddie for most of the film, threatens his girlfriend and murders two innocent people in broad daylight. But in the end, it was all out of loyalty to his dying boss and he helps Eddie get the NZT back, so all is forgiven.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: Eddie, despite evolving to be as crooked as his enemies are, still comes off as much more sympathetic.
  • The Load: Eddie suffers chronic writer’s block before taking NZT and is dumped by Lindy, but she is not afraid of him until he becomes The Millstone.
  • Lonely At the Top: Trying to get rich, Eddie manages to alienate Lindy, the only person who truly cares about him, leaving him with the Corrupt Corporate Executive and the Mafiya.
    • Eddie’s ex wife also dumped him while she was under the NZT’s influence. Eddie would have not contacted her if not for his own problems with NZT.
  • MacGuffin: Take a guess.
  • The Mafiya: The loan shark is apparently from the Russian mob.
  • The Millstone: Eddie manages to ruin Van Loon’s greatest business; he unwillingly hooks the Russian into NZT, his two bodyguards are killed, as well as two Heroic Bystanders. Lindy realizes Eddie cannot care about anything except NZT, so she abandons him as fast as she can.
  • Missing Time: Too much NZT-48 - more than one pill a day - seems to cause this.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: As is the protagonist, Eddie.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Bradley Cooper as Eddie Morra.
  • 90% of Your Brain: The Movie of the trope. Eddie's initial dealer outright says that "you only use 5% of your brain."
  • Omniglot: In his first month on the drug, Eddie was able to learn and fluently speak foreign languages, just by listen to them a few times. We see four (Italian, Russian, French and Mandarin), but there's probably more. Cooper's fluency in French is actually true.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Johnny Whitworth as the delightfully sleazy Vernon Gant, the man who introduces Eddie to NZT. He is killed fifteen minutes into the movie. Also, Eddie's bodyguards who also last only two scenes.
  • Ontological Inertia: subverted because there is not time travel, but one of the themes of the movie is how, even with the Applied Phlebotinum NZT pills, things continue to be the same:
    • Eddie is The Load before he uses NZT, but after that, he doesn’t become a winner. He becomes The Millstone.
    • Lindy is a winner before she takes NZT, but after that, she doesn’t become a loser. She doesn’t want anything to do with the drug that made her cross the Moral Event Horizon.
    • Eddie seems to have been gone from Rags to Riches in very short time. But then the Corrupt Corporate Executive cut all his credit. He could have won millions if he would waited, but NZT comes with limited time.
  • Orange-Blue Contrast: Used constantly in the movie as well as the poster.
  • Phlebotinum Overdose
  • Photographic Memory
  • Power-Up Food: Well, Power Up Pills, but same difference, right?
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Instead of curing cancer or ending world hunger, most users apply their new smarts for money, political power, or just making their lives better. Justified with varying levels of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity as users like Eddie still make impulsive decisions which can be increased by the drugs giving feelings of invincibility. He does also figure out a way to keep NZT's properties without needing the drug, and even enhance them.
    • Eddie at least plans to subvert this. But most of the movie's plot centers around him trying to raise the insane amount of money he decides he will need to put his plan into motion and it's never revealed what that plan actually is beyond that (presumably running for Senate is one of the next steps).
  • Precision F-Strike:

 "Thursday I need 20 pills"

"Thursday you can go FUCK YOURSELF"