American Ultra

There are times when it’s hard to hang with stoners. I often find the only way I deal with them is to my own buzz going. I don’t partake in their particular narcotic, because I am paranoid enough as it is, thank you very much. My weapons of choice this evening were one of those big cans of Heineken, and a bag of chocolate covered pretzels. At one point during the movie, I thought there was some melty chocolate on my thumb, but it turned out to be a smudge from a Sharpie. That was a disappointment. And so was American Ultra.

Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) works at a store in Liman, West Virginia, (get it?) and he has no idea that that he was once part of a supersoldier program called “Wise Man,” that has since been mothballed. CIA agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) tries to activate Mike because fellow agent Adrien Yates (Topher Grace) has created a new program called “Tough Guy,” and his soldiers are on their way to kill Mike. Mike kills two of the soldiers, and spends the rest of the movie on the run with his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart).

Nima Nourizadeh made a great looking film, with insane, over the top action scenes, but I never felt drawn in. A lot of the jokes fell flat, but I am not even sure they were ever fully inflated to begin with. So I guess part of the blame lies with screenwriter Max Landis. The story idea is solid, and the actors were all doing the best they could with what they were given to work with, but it never came together. Eisenberg and Stewart have great chemistry together, as witnessed in Adventureland. The rest of the cast, including Tony Hale and Bill Pullman, deserve much better than this.

American Ultra feels like it wants to be a Matthew Vaughn or Edgar Wright film, but maybe that would be asking too much. The idea of a stoner Jason Bourne sounds like comedy gold, and it should have been. You may ask, “What do you expect from a movie about stoners?” My answer would be: “Did you see Pineapple Express?” That was a fun movie. Maybe Lionsgate should have brought in someone like Joe Carnahan to shake things up a bit. You ever see Smokin’ Aces? That’s an underrated film if there ever was one.


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