Limitless

 
Story centered on drug abuse sends very iffy messages.
  • Review Date: March 10, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character becomes addicted to a drug that enhances his mental powers and makes him capable of solving any problem (and thus overcoming his lack of confidence and motivation). While on the drug, he accomplishes many things, but most of them are self-serving and based on greed and lust. He engages in destructive behavior with few or no consequences. At one point, his girlfriend argues that he hasn't actually accomplished anything on his own. The ending doesn't solve this problem.

Positive role models

The main character isn't a positive role model. He becomes addicted to a drug that enhances his mental powers and begins to lust for power and money. He's selfish, willing to step on anyone who gets in his way.

Violence

Violence increasingly enters the main character's life as a result of the drug. He deals with gangsters and loan sharks, and there's some shooting and stabbing, dead bodies, and lots of blood (including one particularly gruesome moment in which the main character drinks blood). He makes a suicide attempt but backs off. In one scene, a man is blinded with a hypodermic needle. In another scene, a good character fights off a bad one by picking up a little girl wearing ice skates, flinging her feet in the villain's face, and using the blades on her feet to cut his face open.

Sex

The main character sleeps with many women during the course of the story, sometimes while he's in a relationship with his girlfriend. Viewers see kissing, fondling, and suggestions of sex.

Language

Language isn't frequent but includes one "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t," plus "ass," "crap," "prick," "bitch," and "oh my God."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drugs are the main issue here -- NZT is fictitious, but it drives the movie's entire plot. The main character is clearly physically addicted to the pills and gets to the point at which he could die if he stopped taking them. The movie shows the excitement of the high as well as the horror of the crash, the sickness, the side-effects, etc. The movie even has different lighting schemes for the two states: bright and colorful for the high, and gray and drab for the crash. In addition to NZT, there's plenty of drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this sci-fi thriller based on a novel by Alan Glynn stars The Hangover's Bradley Cooper as a man who becomes addicted to a (fictional) drug that enhances users' mental powers, using it to further his own power and wealth. He becomes involved with gangsters and loan sharks, which leads to plenty of violence, including shooting, stabbing, and blood. He also sleeps with many women, and there's language (including one "f--k" and a few "s--t"s) and frequent drinking. Although the movie is rated PG-13, the message -- that drugs can help you overcome problems related to confidence and motivation -- and the lack of consequences for most of the main character's drug-fueled decisions and actions make Limitless a very iffy choice for teens.

What's the story?

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a slovenly writer who's supposedly working on a sci-fi novel, but he can't quite motivate himself to write a single word. His girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish), gets tired of it and breaks up with him. Then an old acquaintance gives him a pill called NZT that suddenly makes everything clear, boosting his concentration and knowledge to extraordinary levels. He gets hold of an entire supply of NZT and sets out to satisfy his desire for more money and power. Unfortunately, loan sharks are after him -- as are as thugs involved with the drug's illegal manufacture. Worst of all, Eddie gets mixed up with a financial wizard (Robert De Niro) who may be more dangerous than any of the others. Can Eddie ever get his life back? Does he want to?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

With LIMITLESS, director Neil Burger (The Lucky Ones) delivers a sci-fi thriller much like his earlier The Illusionist, but cleverer and more playful. In a way, the movie is as involving and addictive as the fictitious drug it conjures up. Burger cooks up many tricks, including a lighting scheme that visually illustrates the effects of the drug, as well as a memorable sequence depicting an 18-hour blackout that the hero experiences while on the drug.

Yes, the movie basically celebrates consequence-free behavior, but it also succeeds in tapping into a general human dissatisfaction and offering a vicarious escape (which, in a way, makes the iffiness of its messages even more questionable for teens!). Meanwhile, Burger guides Cooper through an appealing performance, and he's matched by De Niro in a snaky supporting role, as well as many other terrific turns in smaller parts. Ultimately, Limitless is a strong combination of the all-too-rare pairing of sci-fi ideas and human emotions, but it's best suited for adults.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays drug use. What are the consequences? Does that seem realistic? If a drug like NZT was real, what do you think would happen to people who took it?

  • How can people find confidence and motivation without the use of illegal substances?

  • Is the movie's violence scary or threatening? How is the violence affected by the idea that the main character is in control of everything that happens?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 18, 2011
DVD release date:July 19, 2011
Cast:Abbie Cornish, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Director:Neil Burger
Studios:Relativity Media, Rogue Pictures
Genre:Thriller
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic material involving a drug, violence including disturbing images, sexuality and language

This review of Limitless was written by

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Parent of a 4, 7, 9, and 11 year old Written byMomFourBoys April 9, 2011
age 15+
 

Worst movie I've seen in a long time

Unlikable main character with poor message. Hard to find anything redeeming about this film.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byBookHero11 March 26, 2011
age 13+
 
Well, there isn't a terrible lot of violence but there is a fair bit of blood. There is one scene whe Bradley Cooper drinks another dudes blood. I looked away. It was gross. Pretty bloody for PG-13.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byWise Selection April 2, 2011
age 17+
 
I wish I did not go and see Limitless! The violence is excessive and PG-13 doesn't mean very much anymore! The movie rating system in the United States is an absolute joke and it should be abolished and just have a sex/violence activity rating like we do here on Common Sense Media! At least that would be much more honest. When stabbing out a man eye and making him blind is PG13 then what's next?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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