Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “American Ultra” which originally appeared here.
Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a simple, stoner who spends most of his time getting high and writing a comic about a monkey astronaut. What he doesn’t know is that he has received secret training by the CIA to become a lethal killing machine. When the CIA decides to target him for termination, his former handler (Connie Britton) decides to reactivate him thus turning him into a weapon. Now, he must try to use his new abilities to save himself and his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) from getting killed.
If there is one thing to take away from this film is that it’s fun. This film is also many things. It is an action movie, a drama, a comedy, and others but I won’t spoil that. I thought it did all of those very well. This is all thanks to the script. Despite all the things it tried to be, it was never a mess. It also gave us developed, likeable characters that we can’t help but not root for. I thought the story flowed nicely up until near the end and the pacing was okay. More about that later. I thought the action scenes were well done here. What made them exciting was the camera work where it was able to slow down and speed up at the right times, the fighting choreography which felt well-rehearsed, the creativity used which I won’t spoil either, and the violence which I liked and definitely earned the film it’s 18A/R rating. There are some dramatic moments as well as Mike and Phoebe, who have been together for a long time, are trying to take their relationship to the next level just to name one. I thought the film was very funny as well without trying too hard. I thought it was also well-timed as well. It along with the dramatic elements broke up all of the action sequences giving us a good balance of each. What really sold me were Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart’s performances. I thought they had great chemistry and really played well off of each other. You can tell that they’ve worked together before in Adventureland. I really saw him as the oblivious, loveable, well-intentioned stoner and she is there as the “straight-woman” type to balance him out. I felt bad for Topher Grace here. I don’t think he was well used here as the “bad guy”, Adrian Yates. This is because his character was not well written and he just did not look write in the part. His quips and one-liners are hit-or-miss with most of them being misses. All of this could maybe have fared better if the character were played by someone else. I wish the film was a little more like the beginning where he was initially unaware of what was happening to him because that was when it was the funniest but that is just a minor complaint. If you just want to turn your mind off and be entertained for an hour and a half, this is not the worst way to do it.