Film Review: American Ultra (2015)
From the director of Project X, director Nima Nourizadeh brings Max Landis’s original work to life in the greatest way possible. Filled with gore, humour, and stylistic action, AMERICAN ULTRA is a glorious comedy that can do no wrong in our eyes. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, and Bill Pullman, prepare to be hooked on the wildest ride of your life as we embark on an adventure with two stoned hipsters Mike Howell and Phoebe Larson.
Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a stoner who lives in West Virginia where he works as a convenience store clerk. In love with long-time girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart), Mike plans to propose to her but constantly fails to find the right moment.
Meanwhile, CIA agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) learns that her unsuccessful Ultra program’s sole survivor is to be eliminated by her rival, Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) and his posse of ‘Tough Guys’. It is then revealed to the audience that Mike is no ordinary human being — he is in fact Lasseter’s sole survivor of the Ultra program. Feeling that she has a duty to protect Mike, Lasseter decides to warn Mike of impending danger and activates Mike’s inner ability through a series of code words.
A rollercoaster journey ensues for both Mike and Phoebe as they get hunted down across gritty America filled with
stoners, dealers and power-hungry cops. Sugarcoating American Ultra with a touch of Tarantino-esque flair, Nourizadeh’s direction fuels the explosive action sequences in the most glorifying manner. With a myriad of action choreography and rapid camera shots happening one after another, the film constantly satisfies the audience’s adrenalin rush to our delight.
But American Ultra isn’t as intense as you’d think it would be. With a pot-smoker as the main character who becomes a fighting fiend, screenwriter Max Landis would have had the greatest joy of writing American Ultra and subverting many elements of the sci-fi/drama genre. Accompanied by witty one-liners and cheesy romantic dialogue, American Ultra is a unique comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and as a result, it makes the film refreshingly bold compared to its rivals.
American Ultra marks the return of Kristen Stewart (Camp X-Ray, Still Alice) and Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network, The Double) as co-stars again. Since Adventureland (2008), both actors have come very far in their line of work, and they certainly did not disappoint in this film. Playing hipsters with a touch of hilarity, vulnerability and edginess, these characters played by Eisenberg and Stewart are not characters that not many young actors can easily pull off.
Eisenberg, who is an unlikely candidate for any action thriller, exceed our expectations when his character becomes a hyperactive human being. Delivering some of her best work to date, Stewart perfectly portrays Mike’s supportive girlfriend with the right amount of edginess, and to our great surprise, a soft femininity that we haven’t seen from her before. Whether they are fighting agents and exchanging sarcastic jokes in between, Eisenberg and Stewart’s on-screen chemistry is infectiously engaging to watch. We ultimately become invested in these characters, feeling emotions for them as they cry in each other’s arms and when they are on the brink of death.
Overall: Contrary to critics’s reviews, AMERICAN ULTRA is one of 2015’s most underrated films that deserve all the credit it deserves.
With the combination of Matt Landis’ original screenplay and the chemistry between Stewart and Eisenberg, American Ultra is an absolute refresher from mainstream action-comedies that will surprisingly entertain you.
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