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(2011), PG-13 [Hard R-13*] (1hr 37.7min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
July 19, 2011
Jukly 20, 2011

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2011), PG-13 [Hard R-13*] ... murder and illegal drugs go hand-in-hand.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Relativity Media, Virgin Produced, Rogue, Many Rivers Productions, Boy of the Year, Intermedia
Distribution (US): Relativity Media, Rogue
Director(s): Neil Burger
Producer(s): Bradley Cooper, Ricardo Del Río, Leslie Dixon, Jason Felts, Adam Fields, Ken Halsband, Ryan Kavanaugh, Scott Kroopf, Patty Long, Patrick Peach, Tucker Tooley
Screenplay by: Leslie Dixon
Novel: (The Dark Fields) Alan Glynn
Cinematography/Camera: Jo Willems
Music: Paul Leonard-Morgan
Film Editing: Tracy Adams
Casting: Douglas Aibel
Production Design: Patrizia von Brandenstein
Viewed on Fox Home Entertainment DVD

LIMITLESS is a somewhat complex story and I don't have the time it would take to prepare a satisfying summary. It is a story of drug addiction and rationalization of the addiction to achieve the chemical benefits of the drug. We've all heard the story but this time it targets a different somatic focus.

Eddie Morra (Bradely Coopper) is introduced to Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), his drug-dealer ex brother-in-law in Eddie's very brief marriage to Melissa (Anna Friel). The new drug Vernon gave Eddie was NZT48. It was not a hallucinogen or narcotic but it was not an FDA approved drug. Rather than getting the consumer high NZT enhanced the human brain to full capacity. The unfortunate property of the drug was that it wore off and the user needed more to achieve the same enhancement.

The effect of the drug on the rattle-brained Eddie made him super genius, focused, a neatnik and "together." Enough so he became an "overnight" millionaire in the stocks world. But he had to deal with a street loan shark to get seed money to make his millions. Eventually the load shark also used the NZT, became addicted to the NZT and extorted Eddie for more. One of the graphic items of violent nature was Eddie became so addicted to the NZT that, after a defensive killing of the load shark, Eddie drank the blood of the load shark to get the NZT in the loan shark's system into his own.

Wall street mogul Carl Van Loon (Robert DeNiro) got wind of Eddie's marketing genius and drafted Eddie into his fold ... until Van Loon became professionally subordinate to Eddie. At a hefty cost.

That provides a snapshot of the caliber of this PG-13 film ... er ... rather this hard R-13 film. It earned R-equivalent area scores in three of the CAP investigation areas (W, I, D), Pg-13 in two (S, M) and PG in one (O).

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
In addition to Eddie drinking the blood of a man he just killed, the violence/crime content of this film included contemplating suicide, dead bodies (including with gore), fighting, assault and more as revealed in the Findings section.

God warns us of violence in many verses throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. One example is in Prov. 16:29 where he warns that violence is "catching" and may lead one into a "way that is not good." Man has echoed God, probably unknowingly, by warning that viewing violence "may lead to real life violence" and can "lead to emotional desensitization towards violence in real life." But do you think we would listen?

Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
Twenty two uses of profanity were found plus one use of the most foul of the foul words. [Eph. 5:4, Eph: 4:29, Col. 3:8] "Who does God think He is to tell me it is a sin to cuss?" Since you've asked, I'll tell you. Not only did He write the Rules and not only does He decide whether we spend eternity in Heaven or Hell, He spent three days in Hell so you and I would not have to spend one moment there. He is entitled.

Eternity. I wonder if anyone has ever really wondered how long is eternity. I'll share with you my perception of eternity. Imagine you have made it to Heaven and are basking in Paradise knowing you will do so for all eternity. After a few thousand years in Paradise, you become curious and ask Jesus just how long you have left in Heaven. In His infinite wisdom and sense of humor, Jesus gives you a job that will answer your concern in no uncertain terms. You are to count every grain of sand on the Sahara Desert, one grain at a time. And you are to take 1000 years to count each grain, one at a time. By the "time" you have finished counting every grain of sand, one grain each 1000 years, your "time" in eternity will have just gotten started. And on the flip side, eternity in the searing but

never consuming flames of Hell will be just as long. There are other examples of impudent and/or criminal demonstrations of behavior in this film but I ask you to look to the listing in the Findings section to discover al of them.

Sexual Immorality (S) - 56 out of 100
This film is a PG-13 so that means there is sexually immoral behavioral demonstrations in it, including intercourse. Though no gender-specific parts are seen, nude bouncing legs are. And sometimes suggestion is more powerful than explicit display. There is also cohabitation for sex, admission of sexually immoral behaviors, a man on a toilet, a make-out frenzy and adult in underwear.

Although there are many verses in the Bible admonishing us against sexually immoral matters, sight and sound and contact, I will use 1 Thess. 4:1 - 7 to make His point. I hope you heed His point to enable you to become (or stay) master of your body rather than slave to it. In summary, any sexual contact (including visual and audible), conduct or activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is sinful.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - Zero out of 100
A film about an illegal drug is going to have a lot of drug related content. And Limitless does. Possession. Consumption. Dealing and more. Not to mention quite a bit of alcohol. And smoking. Just no prescription drug abuse.

God's admonition about our bodies is that we are not to get them drunk. [Eph. 5:18] Ephesians 5:18 says we are not to get drunk on wine. "Drunk" is translated from Methusko which means to knowingly and freely intoxicate. So, the focus in Eph. 5:18 is not intoxicating your body with anything: alcohol or drugs. God further advises us to take good care of our bodies because the body is the Temple of Christ. [1 Cor. 6:19]

Further, a 2002 study by the American College of Physicians (ACP) revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking in and as entertainment undeniably leads to abuse of alcohol among underage viewers. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% of the youths were under fourteen years old) only 16% were completely restricted in their entertainment diets. Within the ACP study population, the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no viewing restrictions
  • 16% for those with partial viewing restrictions
  • four percent for those with complete viewing restrictions.

    There is nothing to say that smoking in and as entertainment does not carry the same danger of influence as drinking.

    Offense to God (O) - 73 out of 100
    Six times God's name is abused. And that is violation of one of the very Ten Commandments. [Exod. 20:7] God is so serious about using His name in vain that He repeats His warning in Deuteronomy 5:11.

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 62 out of 100
    At least Hollywood gets one aspect of the drug world correct: that murder and illegal drugs go hand-in-hand. There are two gunfire murders and two knife murders demonstrated in this PG-13 movie. Four professional public health agencies, the same four which warn that violence in and as entertainment may lead to real life violence and may desensitize the young viewer towards violence, also warn that violence in and as entertainment may lead the young viewer to believe that violence is an acceptable way to settle conflict. When are we going to listen? How many ways do we have to hear it to believe it? Are we so dull as to think there is no harm from murder portrayed in and as entertainment? No culpability? Some people are dead because we have been sticking our heads in the sand about entertainment violence (and a plethora of other behavioral aberrations in and as entertainment).


    If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • Eph. 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off [rid yourself of] all these; anger, wrath, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], blasphemy [blasphemia: impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty], filthy communication [aischrologia:foul speaking, low and obscene speech] out of your mouth. (NIV) Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice [kakia: ill-will, desire to injure, wickedness, depravity, evil, trouble, not ashamed to break laws, etc.], and filthy language [aischrologia: foul speaking, low and obscene speech] from your lips.
  • 1Ths. 4:1 - 7 (NIV) Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified [hagiasmos be kept or made pure]: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you [hekastos: each, every, whether male or female] should learn to control his [or her] own body [which includes control of drives, touching, seeking, exhibiting, lusting (even after images), promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; [Be master of your body and urges, not a slave to them.] and that in this matter no one should wrong his [autos: himself, herself, he, she, his, her] brother [adelphos: a fellow believer] or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish [unforgiven] men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you [humin: you, your, yourselves]. For God did not call us [hemas: us, we, our] to be impure, but to live a holy life. [All the gender-related definitions are included to show you this verse applies to women and youth as well as men. And "sexual immorality" (fornication - pornea), by definition, applies to all matters of sexual immorality, including incest, homosexuality, lesbianism, sex with animals and relatives, etc. All God's admonitions can be summed us as any sexual contact (including visual and audible), conduct or activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is sinful.]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.]
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Ex. 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion and in praise and prayer is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title. So, trying to excuse such expressions with "I was talking TO God/Jesus when I said that" or It's just words" or "I was acting" will not work with Him. Nor will "Everybody says that" excuse the sin of using His name in vain. If everyone on the planet who has ever drawn a breath used His name in vain, it would still be a sin to do so. If no one ever did, it would still be a sin to do so. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Limitless (2011) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • dead bodies, repeatedly, some with gore
  • contemplating suicide, twice, once to prevent the subject's murder
  • murder victim
  • illegal money
  • firearm threat, repeatedly
  • assault with fight - long
  • fight injuries
  • additional assault, repeatedly
  • pursuit to kill, repeatedly
  • facial laceration
  • threat to kill, repeatedly
  • box of human body parts severed from hosts, twice
  • breaking and entering
  • hostage
  • threat to disembowel
  • defensive killing by knife, with gore
  • additional defensive killing
  • drinking victim's blood to get the drug in the blood
  • syringe needle in eye
  • gunfire to kill, repeatedly

    Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
  • 22 uses of profanity
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words
  • lie to police
  • additional lying
  • reckless driving
  • irresponsibility in traffic causing property damage

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 56 out of 100
  • man on toilet
  • intercourse (off screen) with legs bouncing, twice
  • make-out frenzy
  • cohabitation for sex, repeatedly
  • woman stripping (no gender-specifics seen)
  • adult in underwear

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - Zero out of 100
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • bar, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • character with history of drug dealing
  • offer of unapproved drug
  • buzzed
  • drug consumption, repeatedly
  • addiction developing and manifesting, repeatedly
  • withdrawals
  • extortion using addiction as leverage

    Offense to God (O) - 73 out of 100
  • 6 uses of God's name in vain

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 62 out of 100
  • two gunfire murders
  • two knife murders

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
    For NR rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-NR
    PG equivalence: PG-NR
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-NR
    R equivalence: R-NR
    ** G, PG, PG-13 and R are registered trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

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