Movie Review: “American Ultra” – Ultra Bloody Fun

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 17, 2015

american ultra

There’s been a plethora of action films on the big screen this month, many of them sequels or reboots of much beloved stories. The one action film no one was expecting was “American Ultra”, a genre blend of stoner film meets spy film. And though the trailer hints at the action and the comedy, it might be easy to dismiss. But to do so would mean missing out on the odd fun that “American Ultra” delivers.

“American Ultra” opens with anxiety-riddled stoner Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) leading a pretty tame life where he divides his time between working a boring job and spending time with his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristin Stewart). What Mike doesn’t know is that he’s a former government agent who was part of an experimental program. But when he’s marked as a liability and set to be killed, his old supervisor activates his killer instincts. Unfortunately for those sent to kill him, he proves to be very highly trained and a little bit high.

“When someone is trying to kill you and says, ‘Wait,’ you don’t go ‘Oh, what do you wanna talk about?’.”

I think “American Ultra” is one of those films that you can’t take too seriously. It’s meant to be fun and gory entertainment, and at this it succeeds. The screenplay, written by Max Landis, is the right balance of comedy, action, and romance. And the majourity of the scenes feature all three aspects. What I could have done without is the weird high speed rewind of the story that happens at the beginning. There are a couple of slow and too-odd scenes like that. Mostly the humour is dry and sarcastic which is awesome. Phoebe is the voice of reason in Mike’s world; she points out when he does or says something dumb that’s dangerous. And even though they’re both weird – as is every character in the film, to be honest – it’s easy to root for them to survive as a bunch of agents try to kill them. Victoria (Connie Britton), with the help of Petey (Tony Hale), want to help them and stop Adrian (Topher Grace). Two characters which are completely ridiculous are Rose (John Leguizamo) and Laugher (Walton Goggins).

american ultra

The cast of “American Ultra” is quite eclectic to say the least. A lot of big names star in this film. Eisenberg usually plays the awkward nerd, but here he does well as the sad, confused stoner who can do anything once he’s activated. Some people question Stewart’s talent, but I think she plays Phoebe really well. She’s both sarcastic and strong. Say what to you want about her acting, but in ‘American Ultra” she excels. Grace plays the part of a jerk surprisingly well and has good comedic timing. Britton and Hale help ground the film with their daring and honest characters.

“I don’t know anything about tanks and guns and bombs. But I suddenly know everything about tanks and guns and bombs.”

“American Ultra” may not be the best action movie out there, and some people will think the idea is silly. But, honestly, the movie is meant to be odd and funny and violent. Sometimes it goes a touch too far, but most of the time it gets it just right. The action is bloody, fast-paced and sometimes funny. The comedy is mostly on point, and the romance is the anchor of the story. The cast is full of big names, and they almost all deliver. You may think “American Ultra” looks ridiculous, but give it a chance. It’s bloody good fun.

My Rating: 7.5/10

american ultra

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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