Review | American Ultra (2015)
- Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
- With: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton
- 96 Minutes
Perhaps one of the comedies that I awaited with greater curiosity and that unfortunately turned out to be worse than expected… American Ultra, directed by the man behind Project X promised endless laughter as a result of an unexpectedly brilliant duo (Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart) but the apparent potential was not enough to assert the unusual plot and the somewhat foolish comedy. Although the chemistry between the two actors is contagious, the pace and the exaggeration of the film leaves room for disappointment. Perhaps my excessive expectations led to this displeasure because honestly, I can’t say that I completely disliked what I saw… American Ultra is an irreverent and completely crazy action movie that didn’t delivered the comedy I was expecting and that ended up losing some credibility for being too serious.
Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends most of his time getting high and writing a graphic novel about a superhero monkey. What Mike doesn’t know is that he was trained by the CIA to be a lethal killing machine. When the agency targets him for termination, his former handler activates his latent skills, turning the mild-mannered slacker into a deadly weapon. Now, the utterly surprised Mike must use his newfound abilities to save himself and his girlfriend from getting wasted. [Synopsis from: IMDb]
Without mincing words, the story starts somewhat irregularly… Mike is sitting in front of two agents and is forced to tell everything that happened in the past hours, while we see a series of pictures that reveal some sort of brutal attacks in the city. And thus, he begins by describing the two parallel universes where the plot develops… On one hand we have the CIA, the place where apparently is about to take place a top-secret mission to eliminate one of the most precious assets of the agency and, on the other, the lovers Phoebe and Mike that stand out for their great chemistry on-screen… These two characters happen to be one of the most positive points in the movie and that pleased me the most. Although there are small secret details in the CIA mission that are only revealed in the end, we know immediately that Mike is in danger and that there is something suspicious about the mission. The Eisenberg’s character is charismatic and it’s exciting to see the way it reacts to the successive CIA attacks. A series of successive raids that put Eisenberg in line of fire and show some of his skills. For a guy living his days smoking pot and create stories for characters from another world, Mike is surprised not only by the attackers but also for its unexpected reactions that turn out to be the funniest moments in the history. Phoebe is also taken by surprise at the beginning and is almost stunned as her boyfriend kicks the bad guys’ asses. The relaxation and the relationship between the two is really contagious and it ended up strengthening the potential of the unusual storyline.
The big problem of the film is mostly its exaggeration since both the secret evil plan of the CIA and the background of the characters ended up undermining the credibility of the plot and thus became a significant negative point. The plot is filled with mind-blowing action sequences that are sometimes unusual and with some (few) hilarious moments. As a movie that promised to be an action packed comedy, it turned out to be an action movie with only a few reasons to make the spectator laugh, losing therefore one of its strongest aspects. Although the characters are an aspect to highlight, the little consistency in history and the irregular rhythm of the film turn out to contrast negatively. American Ultra has no limits but suffers from the lack of content when it tries to be too serious, losing potential and credibility as the story unfolds. Here is a suggestion to pass the time and to cheer up a bit that is somehow disappointing when one looks to its irreverent premise.