Hi everyone, Bryan Here…
This late summer movie ‘American Ultra‘ mixes a good stoner comedy with high octane action with a great cast and some decent laughs throughout. You can add to that a good amount of bloody violence in the second half of things. That all being said, ‘American Ultra‘ seems to lose its steam far from the climax of the movie, and seems to just go through the motions until the end. Still, it’s a fun popcorn film to end the summer on. Director Nima Nourizadeh, whose only previous film was the found footage party movie, ‘Project X‘, leaves the handheld camera on the table here, and delivers some decent long shots of violence and action, which is a step up in his career.
Interestingly enough, ‘American Ultra‘ is actually based on a real life program from the CIA back in the 50’s, which was quite illegal, so if someone asks you if this movie is a true story, you can with good intentions say, ‘Yes’. ‘American Ultra‘ starts in rural West Virginia where Mike and Phoebe (Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart respectively) live their lives together a small house, where Mike works at a local market that only receives about two customers a week, and Phoebe works at a bail bond company. When not working, or even when they are on the job, the pair continuously smoke pot and discuss Mike’s graphic novel he wants to make called ‘Apollo Ape’.
There tends to be some fun pot smoking jokes and references that should satisfy everyone, and we get a good glimpse at this duo’s genuine and charming relationship, even though they think that smoking pot is the only real goal in life. Soon enough though, Mike is “activated” with a string of words and turns into a pot smoking ‘James Bond‘, due to a high level CIA official named Yates (Topher Grace), wanting to kill and destroy all of the agents who were part of this illegal CIA program.
Now the CIA is using their own agents to fight their own agents. None of it makes any sense, then again, all of it makes sense. Luckily, Mike and Phoebe have a little help from a field agent named Victoria (Connie Britton), who shows up at the right times, when all seems lost. Mike also has help from his drug dealing friend Rose (John Leguizamo), who is a very over-the-top drug dealer that hits on all of the trashy cliches. Even Walton Goggins shows up as a laughing maniacal killer who has no front teeth.
The list goes on and on with these crazy characters, but it’s best you just see for yourself. The best parts of ‘American Ultra‘ lie within the charming relationship between Mike and Phoebe. Their dedication to their performances truly shines. The fight choreography is decent as well, and is very similar to the filmmaking style of the ‘Kick-Ass‘ films. ‘American Ultra‘ is a lot of fun, despite its flaws, but then again, this movie is all about laughing while watching a pothead use his ‘007‘ skills to take out a van full of bad guys, and that’s exactly what you get here. Stay put for a fantastic animated end credit sequence.
– Bryan Kluger