The movie is out this Friday (21st August) and I was lucky to be able to go watch the preview. Here are my thoughts (to save you time and money).
So I’ll start off by saying that when you watch this trailer, you don’t expect much apart from a kick-ass ride. Sadly American Ultra doesn’t really take you for one. Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends his time high and writing a graphic novel about a superhero monkey, while running a rinky dink store in the middle of nowhere small town. (I see you’re expecting some foreshadowing with the superhero monkey bit. Well don’t hold your breath.)
What Mike doesn't know is that he is actually a CIA trained lab rat killing machine, and because of an apparent “failure” in the experiment the time has come to exterminate him. And so begins a very long goose chase. The CIA sends enhanced humanoids to kill Mike, but not before he is re-triggered by the mother of the experiment he was part of. So now Mike, unknowingly, can kick some serious butt, and this is where you think some slick action choreography would come in right? Errrr! Wrong. In fact all you get is a shaky camera, a whole lot of gore, and uninteresting action scenes. If you’re squeamish, beware the amount of blood that is drawn in this short one and a half hour movie – I had my eyes covered through most of the action scenes. When you have a film like American Ultra, you don’t go in expecting a solid plot, but you do go in with an expectation of a unique treatment, and that’s why this movie falls short. The action is uninspiring as is the cinematography.
While Jesse Eisenberg is phenomenal and the only thing that doesn’t want to make u walk away, Kristen Stewart proves yet again that the only role she’ll be able to pull off convincingly is that off a constipated apathetic half human-half robot. (Producers and writers; please don’t get any ideas). She has now been a part of a teen flick like Twilight, a serious role in Still Alice, and now a hand at comedy with American Ultra. Fail. Fail. Fail. She is so unconvincing as Phoebe Larson that she brings down Jesse’s performance. I would have actually loved to see Ellen Page in this role – she would have pulled of some amazing eccentric chemistry with Eisenberg. Connie Britton and Victoria Lasseter wasn’t bad, but nothing great either and while Topher Grace gives it his all as Adrian Yates, it’s hard to see him as anything but Eric Forman from That 70’s Show.
Now the movie isn’t all that bad. It has its light moments and Eisenberg’s comic timing is superb. Everything from his body language to his facial twitches are perfectly in sync with his character. Some scenes will definitely give you the giggles if not get you into fits of laughter, but it’s not something that sustains, and that’s pretty essential for an Action Dramedy like this.
P.S. Maybe I missed it, but I just do not get the relevance of the movie’s title. The Ultra part I get, but why the American? If you got it, please do let me know.