The Excellent Sci-Fi Thriller On Streaming That Accidentally Makes Drugs Look Awesome

By TeeJay Small | Published

Movies often come with a set of morals and ethics, with the intention of teaching audiences about the perils of certain lifestyle choices. Of course, Hollywood is a machine that requires many hands to contribute to the final product of a film, leaving some movies to forego their morals entirely in the name of progressing the plot. For one perfect example of this, look no further than 2011’s Limitless, which accidentally makes taking drugs look awesome and helpful.

Limitless Loses The Message

Limitless was written by Mrs. Doubtfire scribe Leslie Dixon and directed by Divergent filmmaker Neil Burger. It is based on Alan Glynn’s book The Dark Fields. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel, Abbie Cornish, Andrew Howard, and Robert De Niro.

Limitless also spawned a short-lived television show of the same name in 2015, though the show was not received quite as well as the feature film.

Drugs Improve Lives

The plot of Limitless centers on a struggling author suffering from writer’s block in New York City. The writer, Eddie Morra, finds himself in a depressive slump after his girlfriend leaves him, preventing him from getting any work done and sending him spiraling into an unshakable pit of despair.

After a chance meeting with an old acquaintance, Eddie is given a free sample of a miracle drug called NZT-48, which clears the cobwebs out of his head and allows him to focus better than ever before. But NZT isn’t your run-of-the-mill Adderall prescription, it’s more like cocaine on steroids, plus whatever exploded inside of Scarlett Johansson‘s body in the movie Lucy.

No One Feels That Good After A Bender

As soon as Eddie takes the limitless pill, he musters exceptional charisma and brilliant smarts, cleans his apartment, and speeds through dozens of pages of work, quickly catching up with all his required deadlines. If this were real life, obviously, Eddie would wake up with a horrifying headache 16 hours later, realize that all his notes are gibberish, and lament the drug for instilling him with a false sense of confidence.

Problems Never Come

Instead, the miracle drug works as intended, save for a few negative side effects that prompt Eddie to go hunting for more. Before long, Eddie is a full-blown drug addict, searching high and low for any supply of NZT and even causing problems borrowing from local loan sharks along the way.

For a while, it seems like Limitless is building toward a finale that demonstrates the folly of drug users, showing that, while drugs can seem fun and cool at the moment, those who indulge in illicit substances are doomed to fall victim to the throes of addiction.

But the movie heel-turns hard in the last act. Rather than display drugs as a dangerous slippery slope that are not to be trifled with, Limitless becomes a DARE speaker’s worst nightmare, by having Eddie engineer a new strain of NZT that is permanent and has no negative side effects. The result is that Eddie becomes a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist and skates into the sunset without a care in the world.

No Such Drug In Real Life

Before the credits roll on Limitless, Eddie kills the mobsters that come after him, allowing him to never repay his debts, escape from the law with no consequences, game the stock market, and even launch a bid to become an elected official. Imagine the surprise on my mother’s face when her 14-year-old son asked, “Is there a drug like that in real life? And can I get some?”

Limitless Is Streaming On Starz


Obviously, the writers of the film had good intentions when they first created the script, but the morals and ethics of the film fall apart quickly under a microscope. If you’re interested in checking out Limitless for yourself, you can stream the film today on Starz. Just be sure to watch it sober, lest you get any funny ideas about calling that shady guy who hangs out near the local supermarket after dark.