In a summer filled with movies that took us through isolated wastelands and foreign countries, American Ultra comes and breaks the seasonal norm. We are taken to a somewhat surreal situation in an ordinary looking town. It's refreshing to have a movie that pretty much takes place in a single city, but still packs all of the action and excitement as the other more globe-trotting blockbusters.
American Ultra is unlike any other we've seen this year, or any of its genre, at that. With the stoner-comedy gone action-thriller being both weird and romantic, the film really packs a punch once it kicks into high-gear.
American Ultra's directed by Nima Nourizadeh, the director of Project X and a few of music videos, so you can expect some pretty cool visuals with this one. We also have an Adventureland reunion with Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, who keep the same chemistry and are just as lovable in this cinematic go-around, too. They're joined by a wonderful supporting cast that consists of John Leguizamo, Topher Grace, and Connie Britton.
American Ultra revolves around Mike Howell, played by Eisenberg, who used to be a secret agent, but has no memory of it. Talk about such a secret that he himself doesn't even know!
One night while at his very ordinary job of being a store clerk, his memories are unburied with a simple code word - just in time for him to be targeted by the government.
I have to give it up to the whole cast for doing such a terrific job in their respective roles, and of course, to the director's incredible styling. The action of the movie is filmed in the likeness of Kick-Ass and Kingsman, and the film looks even better in its attempt. Throughout the movie, I couldn't help to think of how awesome the scenes would look as a graphic novel. The action is quick and keeps you thoroughly engaged without feeling too bloated. I loved the visuals we got; although the movie takes place in one night, the different settings really give it a lot of personality. The characters are lovable - yes, even Topher Grace's antagonist, Yates. You just can't help but to laugh with him. I love seeing a movie where every character feels balanced out by one another and American Ultra is definitely one of those situations.
Overall, the movie was a fun ride, but there were some things that just didn't click with me at times. The main problem I had with the laugh fest was how slow the beginning is. It wasn't until Eisenberg came out with his trademark wit and humor that I became invested. I also have to point out how much bad cred Stewart gets from so many as an actress. She does a truly great job in her role as Mike Howell's girlfriend, Phoebe. The relationship they have feels natural... which is a good thing because other relationships in the movie left me rather confused. One example being Topher Grace's Yates' relationship with Connie Britton's Victoria Lasseter. There's not much of a backstory for them, and their relationship seems like an odd pairing.
I felt that same confused feeling when the movie jumped around too much. In an age where less is more, I think this movie needed more time. The film isn't as long as other movies that are out, and I think that it should have been because it felt fairly rushed. I love the concept, and the characters are certainly wonderful enough to want to spend more time with them, so I wish that we could have.
American Ultra leaves a lot of questions unanswered and many of the characters without a proper resolution... which is just me saying that I really, really want a sequel and am hoping that one will be announced for the (very, please) near future.
Minor character and pacing issues aside, I did find myself enjoying American Ultra. It had me laughing and excited, but also thinking about how genuine the characters felt. If there's any movie to close out this action-packed summer, it's this one.
American Ultra is out in theaters today!
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