AMERICAN ULTRA (transfer) review

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These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Normally I’m not a fan of stoner comedies. When the humor is centered exclusively around people getting high off drugs and getting themselves into trouble, again, just not my cup of tea. Almost in the same vein as bodily waste/bathroom humor. But I won’t lie, Jesse Eisenberg is a great actor, from his nerdy and socially awkward roles to his more dramatic, he doesn’t seem to do many misses. I may not be Kristen Stewart’s biggest fan, she can thank TWILIGHT for that, but even I know she’s pulled off some pretty solid performances in the past, so I’m never one to just write her off from a decent flick. At the very least, she doesn’t seem to attach herself to bad movies intentionally, so to see her in a stoner comedy has to mean this is different from the rest. Topher Grace, Connie Britton, this was an interesting cast to say the least, so I found myself pretty eager to see if it was any good.

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg (JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017], NOW YOU SEE ME 2 [2016], THE END OF THE TOUR [2015], and upcoming films THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE [2018] and RESISTANCE [2019]), Kristen Stewart (PERSONAL SHOPPER [2017], EQUALS [2016], and upcoming films LIZZIE [2018] and JT LEROY [2018]), Connie Britton (PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN [2017], BEATRIZ AT DINNER [2017], ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL [2015], and upcoming films MUSTANG [2018] and THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS [2018]), and Topher Grace (WAR MACHINE [2017], and upcoming films UNDER THE SILVER LAKE [2018] and BLACKKKLANSMAN [2018])

Support: Walton Goggins (TOMB RAIDER [2018], MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE [2018], THE HATEFUL EIGHT [2015], and upcoming films ANT-MAN AND THE WASP [2018] and THEM THAT FOLLOW [2018]), John Leguizamo (JOHN WICK 2 [2017], THE INFILTRATOR [2016], SISTERS [2015], and the upcoming CRITICAL THINKING [2019]), Bill Pullman (BATTLE OF THE SEXES [2017], INDEPENDENCE DAY 2 [2016], and upcoming films THE EQUALIZER 2 [2018] and BACKSEAT [2018]), and Tony Hale (BATMAN NINJA [2018], TRANSFORMERS 5 [2017], YOGA HOSERS [2016], and ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 4 [2015])

Director: Nima Nourizadeh (PROJECT X [2012])
Writer: Max Landis (BRIGHT [2017] and VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN [2015])
Composer: Marcelo Zarvos (WONDER [2017], FENCES [2016], and the upcoming THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS)
Cinematographer: Michael Bonvillain (ZOMBIELAND [2009] and CLOVERFIELD [2008])
Editors: Andrew Marcus (COLLATERAL BEAUTY [2016], INDIGNATION [2016], and SING STREET [2016]) and Bill Pankow (GIFTED [2017])

This is my honest opinion of: AMERICAN ULTRA

(SUMMARY)

Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) is a proud stoner. He is also proudly in love with his stoner girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). He wants to be the best boyfriend he can be, but he’s kind of a fuck-up. His latest attempt was to take Phoebe to Hawaii and propose to her, but an anxiety attack kept them from boarding the plane. Though she says it’s alright, Mike knows it isn’t. But life goes on, Mike still works at a convenient store, still draws his “Apollo Ape” comic that Phoebe loves, and they remain a loving couple. Meanwhile, trouble’s a-brewin’ down in the CIA (as per cinematic usual). Turns out, Mike is a sleeper agent part of agent Victoria’s (Connie Britton) pet program called the Ultra program. Well, turns out her dick-head rival agent Adrian (Topher Grace) has his slimy hands on her project now and has even decided to terminate all of Victoria’s assets. I.E: Mike.

(REVIEW)

Mostly unimaginative and marketed incorrectly, but performances hold it up fairly well making it more enjoyable than not.

As usual, Eisenberg doesn’t let down with his sad-puppy eye acting. I just love how straight he plays his role as Mike and perfectly combines bad-ass with confused and innocent. He really is quite adorable. This is only made more adorable when he shares screen time with Britton. She is surprisingly motherly toward Mike, even though they’re not related (funny joke made about that, actually). I loved the inner conflict she has, knowing that the odds are stacked against her, what with Grace’s character having all assets at his disposal.

I’m actually a little back and forth when I think about Stewart. While the chemistry between her and Eisenberg is undeniably genuine, her character, Phoebe, doesn’t really do anything in the movie. She’s… just Mike’s girlfriend. I know, I know, there’s a little more to her backstory, but at the end of the day, she just… looks at him sympathetically and cheers for him (throwing in a random bit with her kicking someone’s ass, then holding up a gun to the villain, only to be immediately detained all in the span of 30 seconds isn’t showing a bad-ass, it’s TRYING to show a bad-ass). She’s someone for Mike to save, which is a mistake that bad comic book movies make, and those mistakes haven’t really been made since the 2000s, and really, only prominent in SPIDER-MAN. So that’s a bit of a let-down as far as writing. Stewart does a decent enough job to make the character sympathetic, though. Take it for what you will.

I suppose there should be one glaring thing I should address if you’ve been on the fence about seeing this movie, or if the fact that it’s being marketed as a stoner comedy. It’s… not. It really isn’t. Everyone gets high, like, once or twice throughout the movie. Beyond that, it’s basically about a guy who HAPPENS to be a stoner, but doesn’t get high, but kicks a bunch of ass. Not sure if that’s a selling point or not, but heads up. And while I’m on the subject of letting y’all know about the movie, it’s not really all that funny. Not because the humor is bad or cringeworthy, but just because it’s bland. I mean, some jokes get by well enough, but they’re too far apart. I also don’t want to make it out like it’s too dark or anything (although it does get pretty dark at certain times), the movie is more light-hearted than it is funny.

Honestly, the only thing REALLY holding up the movie is the performances. Beyond that, the movie is… pretty standard, even as far as action movies go. You know that scene in the trailer with Mike killing a dude by bouncing a bullet off a frying pan? Considering all the action movies that have existed, why is that the most imaginative shit the film-makers can come up with? Look, I never saw PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, but maybe this SHOULD have been a stoner comedy to the tee. Imagine the visual possibilities if you’re in a fight similar to a Jason Bourne movie, but with the comedy of someone like Apatow. Or hell, even Edgar Wright would bring something visually appealing to the table. Here, it’s just kind of bland. Hell even the psycho hitmen are rip offs of others. Laugher is obviously a worse-than-failed rip-off of Batman’s Joker.

By no means perfect, not even a particularly good film, but because I’m an Eisenberg fan, I can’t say that I didn’t have fun with it. So maybe that’s what it comes down to. If you’re a fan of the cast, I’d say go check it out. But if you’re looking for what the marketing team let you see, ehhh viewer beware.

My honest rating for AMERICAN ULTRA: 3/5

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11 Replies to “AMERICAN ULTRA (transfer) review”

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