Limitless (2011)

Limitless kept me edged. It made me want to go over my whole life with a fine toothed comb and fish out every single thing that I had done wrong, and then write them all down, and then figure out how to insulate myself from the cumulative weight of all of the sins I had committed.

Below I’m going to try and interpret it. It’s a great story.

At the beginning, Eddie Morra is a writer living in NY. He gets dumped by his girlfriend, and he’s also failing to be a writer, because he can’t put words down on his page. He lies about his success as a writer, and his apartment is a mess!

At the end, Eddie Morra is a senator, gets his girlfriend back seriously, and is even off of the drug (so he says). He doesn’t take threats from nobody either.

He gets from point a to point by by taking this drug. But I don’t think the meaning of the movie was “take a drug if you want to be successful.” No, there was more to the story than that.

We can look at what Eddie had to overcome as well. Or rather, look at the story’s antagonists. There was the big shot boss played by Robert de Niro, there was the local gangster from whom he borrowed an initial $100,000, there was the creepy guy who followed him everywhere and who stabbed two guys, there was the side effects of the drug, there was his worst self, there was his lawyer, there was the NYPD; boy, this guy had a lot of enemies! Then there was the stochastic relationship with his girlfriend, and while she isn’t an antagonist, she does make you think about who the real Eddy is.

Let’s start with the gangster. At first, Eddy just owes him $100,000. But then the gangster comes back and takes Eddy’s smart pill. Then he demands more and more, sending Eddy threats along the way: Eddy is the gangster’s lone supply. Eventually, Eddy gets cocky and tells the guy, as gracefully and professionally as one can while talking to a gangster, to fuck right off and that he was prepared for a fight with him. The *loanshark comes back to kill Eddy and get more pills with two of his henchmen. There’s basically a fight, but Eddy kills the loanshark, and then gets the other two to die as well by being smart.

What’s the interpretation of this event? When you have a parasite such as a loanshark growing on you yet killing you, the way you get rid of it is by confronting it head on, using your intelligence to outsmart it, and kill it.

Next, the creepy guy following Eddie and his girlfriend around. How does eddy beat him? Well, first Eddy runs away from him, up until Eddy realizes that he works for someone else addicted to the pill. When Eddy realizes that he was a mercenary hired by someone looking for MZT, Eddy goes up to him after the mercenary’s boss dies and tells him that he would like to hire him (I believe: hire or not, Eddy got the mercenary on his side). And then he got his stack of MZT back from his lawyer friend.

What the interpretation of this event? When someone’s trying to get something from you because someone else is paying them off, you run away from him up until the time where you can outcompete your competitor who’s paying off this “errand boy.”

Eddy got rid of his backstabbing lawyer by using this guy as well, which was a real knife-twist of irony because Eddy used the mercenary to go after the lawyer, who had betrayed him.

What does this mean? Well, the more someone is guided by money and power, the easier it is for them to betray you after taking advantage of you. So what you should do is use your former opponent’s resources to go after your current opponent, who was in bed with your former opponent.

But of course, Eddy got rid of the NYPD by hiring a bloodthirsty lawyer who will do whatever is necessary to get done for his clients what is needed. This took money. I think this means that some problems can be solved by throwing money at them. But there’s something else: you also have to get your life in order if you’re going to do this, because money is indiscriminatory, whereas if you want an end to a problem, like the NYPD, you’ve got to find a long term solution that won’t get you covering up one lie after another.

I think this is what Eddie did really well: in round 1, he made mistakes, like killing someone and getting a loanshark hooked on a good drug. In round 2, he tried to fix it temporarily by covering them with lies: the killing he hired a good lawyer for, the loanshark he basically killed, etc. But in round 3, he faced the mounting pile of lies that was accumulating by facing them head on. He successfully bluffed his former employer out of blackmailing him, he became a Senator, he got the girl, he is “off” of the pill, so his life is going well!

There are three points to make here that I took from the movie.

First, know exactly where all of your weaknesses are and don’t cover them up with haphazard solutions. He was weak financially because he needed the money from the loanshark. Bad decision, cause the loanshark would later try to kill him. He was weak intellectually because he was dependant on the pill! Whoever controlled the pill controlled him, and the story was basically a game of hot potato between people who tried to take control of him by controlling his supply of the drug (or his supply of life).

Second, when you make a mistake, you’re eventually going have to pay for it, even if you’re a reformed person. When Eddy hires the immoral lawyer, he doesn’t expect his lawyer to ditch him and take his pills. But that was the price of using those pills, even though he had gotten his life in order and was aiming at better things than before.

Thirdly, in order to pay for it properly, you need to be, as a prerequisite, a good person in order to leave it behind.

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