Limitless was a 2011 movie starring Bradley Cooper. The movie is about Eddie Morra, a young man in New York City struggling to write a novel. On the day we meet him, he is dumped by his girlfriend and is trying to fend off his literary agent. Eddie has blown through the advance he was paid for the book but so far hasn’t written a single word of the book.
By coincidence Eddie meets his former brother in law who used to be a drug dealer but alleges that now he markets a legal pharmaceutical called NZT that alters brain chemistry in a way that turns the user into a super genius for a day. Although reluctant to use it Eddie tries it and it is everything promised. He writes half his novel in a few hours and finds himself able to navigate his real-world problems, like his angry landlady, effortlessly and successfully.
He goes back to his brother in law to get more of the drug but after going to perform some gopher errands for him Eddie finds his brother in law shot to death in his living room and the apartment ransacked. Eddie calls the police but spends the ensuing arrival time finding and taking the large supply of NZT that the killer had missed.
Now Eddie harnesses his abilities by becoming a securities trader. But he needs capital to get going so he borrows $100,000 from a frightening Russian mafioso. Eddie quickly makes several million dollars and comes to the attention of a Wall Street giant, Carl Van Loon played by Robert De Niro, who gives him the opportunity to become a major financial player. But now he starts running into the side effects of NZT. Continued use encourages neglect of the body such as forgetting to eat for days and overuse of the pills leads to violent impulsive actions. And as he finds out from his ex-wife withdrawal from the drug can be fatal or at least permanently debilitating.
The climax of the story combines crises combining the Russian gangster, Eddie’s work with Van Loon and the NYPD.
The science fiction element of the story is restricted to the unbelievable effects of NZT. In fact, the story reminds me of a decidedly non-science fiction story that I saw long ago. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of Tom Cruise’s first big hit “Risky Business.” We have a man taking a dangerous chance to change his life and dealing with the consequences of that decision. Of course, this story is much darker but the resemblance occurred to me. While I think the story is a little over the top, especially with respect to the Russian gangster portion of the story, I thought it was pretty good. If it sounds interesting to you, give it a try.