A Review Of “Limitless”

“Limitless” is now out on video and it is the ultimate nerd pr0n movie. There’s no anime, no action figures, and no video games — but it does fulfill the ultimate secret fantasy of every geek: The lead character gets to become the smartest, most capable man who’s ever lived.

It starts with writer Eddie Morra, whose life is slowly falling apart. He’s a dirty, disheveled, broke chainsmoker who can’t seem to get started on his big novel or keep the girlfriend he loves in his life.

But, all that changes when he gets his hands on an experimental drug called NZT. Suddenly, everything he’s ever read, ever heard, and ever seen can be instantly recalled and used. Moreover, nothing escapes his notice. He can learn at a rate far faster than anyone who’s ever lived, his will and actions are in perfect alignment, and his IQ goes above 1000.

With his first night on the drug, he cleans his apartment, bags his landlord’s wife, and writes the novel he’s been stuck on. After acquiring more of the drug he moves on making a better class of friends, picking up a string of women, and of course, money.

The film’s extremely well written, it keeps you focused on the plot all the way through, and it also causes you to ask a lot of very pertinent questions.

For example, NZT enables Morra to live in accordance with his highest ideals. Why is it that most of us don’t already do that? After all, most lazy people don’t WANT to be lazy. Most heroin addicts don’t WANT to be heroin addicts. Put another way, if the “flesh is weak,” why is that so? Perhaps because what we want long-term and what we want RIGHT NOW are often two different things and the short-term wants end up taking precedence over the long-term wants.

Also, there are downsides to being THAT intelligent. If you really had an IQ of 1000, having a conversation with the smartest people on earth would soon be as fulfilling to you as talking to your dog — if your dog were much dumber. “You are soooooo good! You want a treat? Yes, that’s a treat! You can eat it! Yum, yum!” Don’t buy that? Well, if you have an average IQ, someone who’s mentally retarded is two standard deviations below you. A genius is about three standard deviations above you. An IQ of 1000? That would be 60 DEVIATIONS above the average person. If anyone were actually that smart, any conversation with another human being would almost inevitably be incredibly tedious.

In another scene, Morra is working on putting together an extraordinary business deal for Robert De Niro. De Niro senses that Morra intends to move on after the deal is over and tells him what a mistake that would be.

Your deductive powers are a gift from God or by chance or a straight shot of sperm or whatever or whoever wrote your life script. A gift, not earned. You do not know what I know, because you have not earned those powers. You’re careless with those powers. You flaunt them and you throw them around like a brat with his trust fund. You haven’t had to climb up all the greasy little rungs. You haven’t been bored blind at the fund raisers. You haven’t done the time in that first marriage to the girl with the right father. You think you can leap over it all in a single bound. You haven’t had to bribe, charm, or threaten your way to a seat at that table. You don’t know how to assess your competition because you haven’t competed. Don’t make me your competition.

In the real world, life is so unpredictable that experience almost always trumps brilliance. The novice genius who thinks he understands as much as someone with years of experience, inevitably finds he knows much less than he thought he did when he tests it in the arena. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why big government fails so miserably at almost every task it tackles. It doesn’t matter how smart you are; a smart guy in D.C. with minimal experience in the real world can’t reliably predict what the impact of D.C.’s one-size-fits-all legislation will be beyond the fact that it will generally be negative and have unpredictable effects.

Last but not least, after Morra’s needs are met, he starts to ask the next obvious question. Where to from here? What can someone with his gifts do not just for himself, but for the world?

Many people would say, “Go into politics.” That would seem to be a poor choice. Why put yourself in a position where your genius is strangled by nonsensical rules, an uncaring bureaucracy, a deliberately deceptive press, and politicians beholden to special interest groups? If you have a unique, world changing genius, why not cure cancer or heart disease? Why not try to figure out how to beat old age? Why not come up with a new model of spaceship that will allow us to colonize other worlds? Why not make Tesla’s dream of a free source of unlimited power a reality? How about a transporter? A replicator? Perhaps a way to neutralize nuclear weapons?

All in all, Limitless is an extraordinary movie, not just because of the quality of the film, but because of the thought-provoking questions it raises. I’d give it 5-out-of-5 stars and highly recommend that you rent it.

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