A stoner finds out he is a CIA assassin in American Ultra. Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pot smoking loser, who does not consider himself worthy of the affections of his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), whom he is working up the courage to propose to. However, unbeknownst to him, Mike was part of a secret CIA program that was shut down. When the smug Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) decides to unleash operatives to take Mike out, his former handler Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) activates Mike’s CIA training, which he uses to defend himself against the onslaught of crazed assassins.
If you take the stoner action film mishmash of Pineapple Express and mix it with the basic premise of the Bourne movies, you will probably have American Ultra in a nutshell. While the film can be best considered a comedy, the action of the film is played surprisingly straight. In fact, American Ultra can be labeled more as an action film, in which the lead protagonist happens to be a stoner.
The action of American Ultra is surprisingly violent, with there being many slow motion blood spurts during the quite complexly choreographed fight scenes. Of course, the comedy of the film comes from how Mike is quite efficient at killing people, even though he has no real recollection of his CIA training. As such, he would just instinctively stab someone in the neck with a spoon or ricochet a bullet off of a frying pan. The comedy subsides somewhat by the final act, where the film fully transitions into a full blown action film.
The film is a reunion somewhat for Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, who previously starred together in the 2009 comedy Adventureland and the two generally have pretty good chemistry with each other. As the lead antagonist Adrian Yates, Topher Grace is pretty much just an irritatingly annoying jerk, though I am not too sure if this is a positive or negative thing. The film also features Walton Goggins as the main CIA assassin Laugher, John Leguizamo as Mike’s drug dealer Rose, and a cameo towards the end by a pretty recognizable actor, who I won’t reveal here.
While part of me wishes that the film was more constantly funny, I will still admit that I liked American Ultra for what it is. The film has a fairly ridiculous premise, incredibly violent action scenes, and a pretty enjoyable animated credit sequence at the end. All and all, it was a fun film.
★ ★ ★ ★ | LIKED IT