In 'Limitless,' Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a slacker writer who can't wrangle his thoughts to save his life, until an old acquaintance introduces him to a pill that yanks out his brain's hidden smarts. In the blink of an eye, Eddie rises from long-haired slacker ne'er-do-well to corporate bigwig and colleague of one Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), learning languages in a flash and managing the market as if he had precognition.
Van Loon, in all of his drug-free smarts, seems like an almost inconsequential player in Eddie's rise to fame, until one day when the weathered businessman confronts Eddie about his capricious behavior. Van Loon lays the smack down on the young, rising talent, reminding him that Van Loon earned his spot in life rather than just stumbling upon it. In that precise moment, we realize that De Niro today isn't the De Niro of yesterday.