- A mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100% of his brain's abilities transforms a struggling writer into a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with many dangers.
- An action-thriller about a writer who takes an experimental drug that allows him to use 100% of his mind. As one man evolves into the perfect version of himself, forces more corrupt than he can imagine mark him for assassination. Out-of-work writer Eddie Morra's (Cooper) rejection by girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) confirms his belief that he has zero future. That all vanishes the day an old friend introduces Eddie to NZT, a designer pharmaceutical that makes him laser-focused and more confident than any man alive. Now on an NZT-fueled odyssey, everything Eddie's read, heard or seen is instantly organized and available to him. As the former nobody rises to the top of the financial world, he draws the attention of business mogul Carl Van Loon (De Niro), who sees this enhanced version of Eddie as the tool to make billions, but brutal side effects jeopardize his meteoric ascent. With a dwindling stash and hit men who will eliminate him to get the NZT, Eddie must stay wired long enough to elude capture and fulfill his destiny. If he can't, he will become just another victim who thought he'd found invincibility in a bottle.—Relativity Media
- Aspiring writer Eddie Morra is a loser at work and romance. Recently dumped by girlfriend Lindy, he heads back home when he meets his former brother-in-law Vernon, who gives him an experimental drug called NZT to increase his creativity. Eddie finds the results more than impressive and decides to seek out Vernon to ask for more pills, but a visit to Vernon's house leads to a dead body. Eddie dutifully calls the police but pockets the NZT he finds hidden in a stove with a large amount of money. Eddie uses the drug and successfully invests Vernon's money, unfortunately raising the attention of a Russian criminal named Gennady. He borrows $100,000 from Gennady who, in turn, takes an NZT pill. Meanwhile, powerful investor Carl Van Loon brings Eddie aboard his team in a merging operation, but a ruthless stranger stalks Eddie, and Gennady threatens his life to gain more NZT.—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Struggling author Eddie Morra suffers from persistent writer's block, but his life changes abruptly when an old acquaintance introduces him to NZT, a revolutionary new pharmaceutical which will allow him to fully utilize his brain's abilities. With this enhanced mental acuity, Eddie soon realizes that the possibilities of what he can accomplish are boundless.—Kyle Perez
- Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a disheveled unemployed writer. He has a contract to write a book but is more talk than action. He has writer's block. At lunch with his girl Lindy (Abby Cornish), she gives him his keys back and breaks up, frustrated with his lack of career progress while she has recently been promoted to editor.
Walking morosely down a New York street, he bumps into his ex-brother in law, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth), whom he hasn't seen for nine years. Vernon is friendly and invites Eddie for a drink. They talk about Melissa (Eddie's first ex), who is living upstate. Eddie confesses he is behind schedule on the book. Vern, currently consulting with a pharmaceutical company, passes Eddie a new brain drug set for market release next year. Vern has to go but leaves his business card. Eddie takes the translucent pill on his way home.
In the stairwell he bumps into the landlord's wife, where she rails him about late rent and lack of career. The drug begins to take effect, and Eddie notices things with clarity. He starts talking to the woman confidently about legal studies and, a short time later, they write her law school paper together then have sex.
Back in his slovenly apartment, Eddie notices the mess and quickly cleans up . He then gets on his laptop and starts writing. The words fly. The next morning he is back to normal but he has several hundred pages of his book printed out. He takes them to his editor, who eyes them warily. At his apartment, he checks his voicemail. The editor is anxious to talk. She has read forty pages and is impressed.
Eddie goes to visit Vernon. Vern's face is bloodied but won't say what happened, but he explains the drug is called NZT48 and asks Eddie to pick up his dry cleaning and some food. (For another pill, Eddie will do anything.) On return, the door is ajar, Vern is on the sofa, dead, and the apartment ransacked. Eddie, stunned and scared, settles down and calls 911. Waiting for the cops to arrive, he searches for the NZT48 stash and finds a plastic baggie full of the pills inside the oven, along with a wad of cash and an address book.
He hides these from the cops, who eventually release him after a short interview. At the police station, he has a telecon with Melissa, his ex-wife, who doesn't want to see him. Back at home he takes another pill and gets a haircut, new clothes and motivation to finish the book in four days. He learns piano, cards, fitness, new languages, and talks like a know-it-all about everything to new friends. One of his listeners, stock broker Kevin Doyle (Darren Goldstein), gives him his business card. Thereafter, Eddie is invited to a jet-set beach party down south. He zooms around with a babe and a Maserati, then shows off by cliff diving from over 100 feet (revealing that a side-effect of NZT is to move ever forward, no holding back). He has an epiphany on what to do for the rest of his life but realizes he needs lots of money to do it.
He slowly starts day trading but needs more capital quickly. A cafe owner sets him up with a Russian loan shark, Gennady (Andrew Howard). The Russian hands him $100,000 but threatens to skin him alive if he doesn't pay it back.
Now Eddie stock trades in earnest and rapidly increases his brokerage account to $2M. Job offers and reporters call. Kevin Doyle offers a meeting with elite entrepreneur Carl Van Loon. At dinner, Lindy is impressed with the new Eddie. They re-connect. Eddie's photo appears in the paper as a "mystery trader." A man in a tan coat (Tomas Arana) seems to be spying on them. At night Eddie is nervous, sensing something.
Eddie meets corporate raider Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro) in a restaurant. He jokingly claims "medication" as his secret then expounds on his knowledge and hints at a formula based on mass psychology. In a limo Carl tests Eddie by asking him to review a file of different companies. Eddie gleans there is a major merger in the works. Carl dropped off Eddie in Chinatown and invites him the next day for another meeting.
Walking, Eddie loses track of time (an emerging side-effect of NZT). Among disjointed events, he recalls Bruce Lee movies to help him battle a gang of muggers in a subway station. He then ends up in a bar and meets new friends and shags a blonde woman. Eighteen hours later he finds himself back to normal, limping but without memory of recent events. His can of NZT 48 is nearly empty and he can't decipher the corporate files anymore. He calls to beg off the meeting with Carl but Kevin convinces him to attend.
Carl asks him about Hank Attwood, a corporate rival who came from nowhere to prominence two years ago, but on the TV Eddie notices a news item about the murder of a blonde woman in a hotel the previous day. He excuses himself and vomits outside, fearing he may have killed the girl during his blackout.
Fearful of NZT's side-effects before taking another pill, Eddie tries to find Vernon's other clients to understand more, but each phone call is a dead end (with users either dead or hospitalized). The next call he makes coincidentally rings the phone of the tan-coat tough guy sitting on the other side of a parkette. Eddie realizes the connection first and makes an escape.
He meets his ex-wife Melissa (Anna Friel) in a cafe. She is a strung out junkie who admits she took NZT, too, but stopped taking it when she realized no one could operate at that level of mental activity without bad consequences, then found out from Vernon that other users had died. Now off of it for two years, she cannot concentrate for more than ten minutes and her life is a mess. She urges him to taper off slowly as cold turkey kills. She walks away with a pronounced limp.
Russian loan shark Gennady finds Eddie and demands his money. In rousting Eddie he spots a dropped NZT pill and takes it. He feels good and, after getting his $100k back, lets Eddie go. Eddie, sick and bedraggled, staggers into Lindy's office. He tells her everything, admits he needs the drugs, and admits hiding his main stash in her house. Leaving Eddie collapsed on the floor of her office, she recovers the plastic bag herself, but in the taxi coming back, the man in the tan coat from the parkette attacks . He viciously kills two bystanders that try to help her as she runs off and hides in Central Park. She phones Eddie, who encourages her to take one of the pills. Under its influence, Lindy escapes by using a ice-skating girl as a weapon (gashing the face of the tan coat man).
Eddie and Lindy sleep together, but in the morning she dresses and is somber. She wants nothing more to do with NZT; Eddie says he needs more time with it to set things up. Lindy leaves him.
Once again Gennady meets Eddie, this time wanting more pills. Afterwards, Eddie hires two bodyguards. He meets Carl again, looking and acting sharp, and is put in charge of brokering the largest corporate takeover in history. Eddie has figured out the proper dosage to take, remembering to eat and sidestep alcohol to avoid blackouts. He orders up tailored suit with imperceptible compartments (to hide his pills) and hires a chemist to reverse-engineer the NZT pills in a short six months.
At a restaurant business lunch, he recognizes a police detective from Vernon's death investigation watching him. The cop shows Eddie the photo of him in the newspaper, which identified him as being at the hotel of the murdered blonde. Eddie hires good "lethal" lawyer Morris Brandt, who gets him off against weak circumstantial evidence. Meanwhile the merger goes on and nears its conclusion. Eddie reveals plans to move on but Carl wants him to stay, acknowledging Eddie's freak ability (throwing it around like a trust-fund baby) while pointing out he hasn't paid his dues through competition to know how to assess his competition.
Finding his hotel room raided, Eddie buys an $8.5M secure condo "fortress." On the street, he meets the Russian again, who wants twenty pills, or else. As he's about to receive $40M from the Attwood merger, Eddie is confident he'll have enough money to deal with Gennady.
At the office, though, Hank Atwood is a no-show. Carl and Eddie meet Hank Attwood's wife, who tells them Hank is in the hospital. The deal will close when he gets better. On the street he notices Mrs. Attwood's scarred limo driver - the man with the tan coat - and realizes Attwood must be an NZT user as well, who won't get better because he's run out of NZT.
For now, Eddie must go to the police station and stand in an ID lineup, but his lawyer, Morris Brandt, gets him released.
At the office, Carl is upset. Attwood is in a coma and Carl wants to know where Eddie has been, thinking Eddie knows what is going on and suspecting betrayal. In the washroom Eddie discovers his pills are missing (stolen). A box arrives addressed to him, Eddie grabs the box and exits, leaving a fuming Van Loon behind. Inside the box, the severed hands of his two bodyguards.
At the condo Eddie watches TV and sees Mrs. Attwood and her lawyer, who's also his lawyer, Morris Brandt. As he realizes that's where his hidden pills went, he sees the Russians coming for him from the security cameras, who assault his steel door with a chainsaw. Eddie goes to the balcony edge, ready to kill himself rather than succumb to their undoubtedly painful torture. He suddenly remembers where one last NZT pill is and tries to retrieve it but loses it as the Russians break in. Gennady shoots up his own last pill (converted into an injectable form) and begins to prepare Eddie for the slow painful torture he's about to experience. With one final thrust, Eddie manages to turn the tables and kill Gennady. The other two Russian thugs, having been busy cracking Eddie's safe with drills, return to the room. Eddie manages to fight them off after lapping up Gennady's NZT-enriched blood, blinding one before killing both in self-defense.
At the hospital Hank Attwood dies. Eddie realizes that, though Brandt stole his pills, he did not give them to Mr. Attwood. Eddie meets the man with the tan coat in the waiting room, who, now that his boss is dead, aids Eddie's search through Brandt's safe, where he finds his pills packet while the tan-coat man watches over Brandt, tied and gagged on the floor.
Twelve months later, Eddie's book is published, and he's running for the U.S. Senate (NY). He gets a surprise visit from Carl in his campaign office. Though warm at first, Carl hints that he knows how Eddie has done it and has, subsequently, shut down his NZT lab. Carl will guarantee a limitless supply in return for some future inside information. Eddie aggressively comes back. Showing off his abilities, he says he is off NZT and doesn't need it (having become permanently enhanced) and pushes Carl away. At an upscale Chinese restaurant Eddie and Lindy are together again. He orders his food in fluent Chinese then notices Lindy's bemused stare. "What?" he asks with feigned humility.
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