Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cleared: Limitless

Along with Thor, I picked up Limitless, and I just watched that tonight. Since the comments on my last post have jogged my memory of just how poorly I know my Hollywood actors, I'm going to refrain from any reference to the level of star power in this movie. I will say that the people in it did a very good job portraying an interesting group of characters. I can also say that I was genuinely surprised by the ending. The premise of the movie is that Eddie, a depressed, unmotivated, unfocused writer sliding rapidly towards rock bottom gets a dose of an experimental drug called NZT from his ex-brother-in-law. The drug essentially overclocks his brain. Where it goes from there makes for an extremely compelling movie. The movie ventures into psychological horror at moments, but is probably better called a thriller. It's exciting, suspenseful, and fairly smart. I liked that Eddie is neither perfect nor a complete scumbag. I liked less that some real questions go completely unanswered. The film also gets special credit for having a sympathetic character use a little kid as a temporary weapon and staying sympathetic throughout the use and afterward. I'd definitely recommend this one!

RPG notes: The customary note about spoilers applies, of course. Okay, the obvious idea here is NZT itself. That drug just begs to be in every cyberpunk and later RPG. Interestingly, though, I can think of at least one fantasy one that already has something similar. The Alchemist class from the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide has an archetype in Ultimate Magic called the Mindchemist that could easily be used to make a character very much like Eddie, though the loss of some physical prowess from the side effects of the Mindchemist's cognatogens means it wouldn't be quite the same. More interesting than NZT all by itself, however, is the implied message in the movie that a sizeable number of the truly elite are on it, and that success and power may well be drug-induced. Any GM worth their salt could easily construct a terrifying dystopian setting around that concept. For bonus points, throw in something like Prozium (from Equilibrium) that's administered via the water supply to the general populace and you have a class of chemically-enhanced super-geniuses ruling over an emotionally-dead population of obedient drones.

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