American Ultra: Review

Written by: Stef Atega

Film | Nov 2, 2015

American Ultra Jesse Eisenberg Kristen Stewart

BRUTAL FUN. That is American Ultra in a nutshell. It's a stylish montage of explosions, kinetic action scenes and lots and lots of blood. It's damn awesome to watch. Who would've thought Jesse Eisenberg could pull off an action flick, let alone a gory one? Then again, Michael Cera kicked ass in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Think of American Ultra as the bloodier version of the TV series Chuck. The premise is quite similar: nerdy stoner Mike, who lives with his girlfriend Phoebe and works in a convenience store, turns out to be a sleeper agent, activated only when he receives a visit from a mysterious woman in a fancy coat and sunglasses.  

When activated, Mike Howell is unstoppable. The CIA are after him because they've decided he is a loose end and needs to be exterminated immediately. But, in true Chuck Norris fashion, Mike gives the CIA a difficult time. And he does so while being socially awkward and high on weed. The film progresses in a rapid-fire pace, right after he kills two assassins with only a spoon and a cup of noodles. Badass, Eisenberg.

Aside from the violently satisfying action set pieces, another highlight would be Mike's relationship with Phoebe, played by Kristen Stewart. In fact, the first quarter of the film focuses on this, and it would feel like you're watching a slacker-striver romance movie. There is an undeniable chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart. You could tell how comfortable they are with each other. After all, this is their second movie together (the first one being Adventureland). You could not help but be absorbed by the realness of their interactions and how naturally they deliver their lines. Overall, great performances by the two actors. And yes, I am aware that it's Kristen Stewart we're talking about.

Although, while we see excellent character development between the two leads, the depth of the supporting cast is lackluster. Topher Grace as the asshole villain is frustratingly one-sided, as is Connie Briton as Agent Lasseter, the mastermind behind the government program Mike Howell trained in. Also, I'm pretty sure everyone would've liked to see more of John Leguizamo, who played Mike's funny drug dealer and appeared on screen for only a short time. But these are minor setbacks, in my opinion. If you watch this movie with the right mindset, you wouldn't even notice or care.

American Ultra has its lapses. But you can't deny how ultra-entertaining it is. This stoner action-comedy, as crazy and wild as it is, is destined to be a cult film.

About the author: Stef Atega

GameGulp's current overlord. Stef is obsessed with cats and anything horror. She also likes shounen anime and Japanese food but refuses to be called a "weeaboo". She believes in the power of indie games.

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