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Review: American Ultra

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Lionsgate FIlms' AMERICAN ULTRA

In a summer filled with spy films, it’s only fitting that the last month of the season gives us another one in the form of American Ultra. What separates this one from the others is that it’s central character is a stoner who would much rather be at home smoking than going on secret missions. This creates potential for some great ideas and some wild moments.

Being a stoner, Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) shares an existence with his live-in girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) that can be described as anything outside of exciting or fulfilling. He doesn’t believe he has much to offer the world, but that changes when he comes to find out he’s actually a deadly sleeper agent who was once trained by the CIA years earlier. This knowledge turns out to be right on time for him as he finds himself coming face to face with a group of lethal agents looking to take his life for reasons unknown.

Much of what is seen in American Ultra is kind of predictable, but what makes it worth watching is all of the mayhem that’s being served up for audiences to feast on. What audiences will be watching while viewing this film can be from the action, the comedy or both. They give us both of those as much as they possibly can. It’s clear that these guys felt like they had something to work with and just had a blast putting it all together from its development during the screenwriting process to the point where filming wrapped up.

When looking at the acting in American Ultra, I can’t say you’ll be introduced to anything new from the two leads. Jesse Eisenberg and Kirsten Stewart essentially play the same characters they always play. If you like who they have been in previous films, you’ll probably like them just as much here. In my opinion, this isn’t as much of an issue as it may be for some since the film doesn’t really rely on them from that standpoint. As a matter of fact, it relies more on the comedy and action that I spoke about not too long ago.

You can say that this is a film that uses its leads as vessels who are here simply because there needs to be someone at the center of it all. The whole thing of them being stoners also adds to that when you think about it, because that doesn’t really amount to anything either. It gives the characters more personality and helps introduce a few of the other characters, but other than that, it’s nothing more than the usual kind of feature that movies need to stand out or blend in.

While I find it hard to believe that it will find what can be considered to be a large audience, American Ultra does have the chance to develop a cult following. I’m interested in seeing how well this does once it’s available for people to bring home via DVD/Blu-ray. It’s the kind of movie that can grow and develop over time in that realm. Obviously, that’s a good thing since studios do make a good chunk of their money this way. This will also allow the film to have a long enough life to create said fans.

As it turns out, American Ultra is a bloody, aggressive, fast and funny rampage through the streets of an unassuming small town unaware of anything that’s going on around them. This is what drives the movie to the success that it finds. For many, it’s something that gives us a chance to laugh at the hilarity while also enjoying everything else that’s being offered. If you’re open to a ninety-six minute romp of entertainment for adults, American Ultra may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Rating: R

Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Jesse Eisenberg
Kristen Stewart
Topher Grace
Connie Britton
Walton Goggins
John Leguizamo
Bill Pullman
Tony Hale

Film Length: 96 minutes

Release Date: August 21, 2015

Distributor: Lionsgate

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