Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writer: Max Landis
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart
American Ultra has had some mixed feedback since its release couple of weeks ago in America, and as its made its way over to England its had a similar reception, but I just can't seem to understand why. Nima Nourizadeh, a director that I've not paid that much attention to or heard much about in past years, has created a drug and violence fuelled action comedy of the highest calibre.
American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mike, a stoner boyfriend to a stoner girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), he was a former government operative who's been brainwashed, which leads him only to discover later that he has a very "particular set of skills" when he comes under attack from the U.S. Government, having been ordered to take Mike out.
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart team up after their critically well received youth film Adventureland (2009), and they collaborate yet again to make this highly stylish and witty action comedy. Up and coming writer Max Landis, of whom I'm a great fan of, definitely left his stamp on this movie. Dialogue sequences were so funny and incredibly entertaining to watch unfold between all characters. Jesse Eisenberg plays a loveable naive stoner who's completely infatuated with his girlfriend Phoebe, and loves nothing more than her, marijuana and his job at a cash-n-carry. Eisenberg portrays this lonely stoner to a tee, with hilarious charisma and sayings, and some adorably naive moments regarding his knowledge on just how deadly he really is. A brilliantly written character. His on screen romance with Kristen Stewart's character was also expertly written, carrying this adolescent romance powered by love and drugs was so great to see unfold on screen, and developed a relationship that I was totally invested in.
Visually the film is well shot. From the very first shot of the film there is some great framing of characters and stylish cinematography. I was totally surprised with just how much action and violence there was in this film, and how well filmed all the action sequences were. Hand to hand combat scenes were edited extremely well, smooth cuts and vivid spurts of blood that had my jaw drop at just how deliberately and openly violent some of the action scenes were.
Jesse Eisenberg plays a fast talking stoner with a hilariously naive streak, and as far as his on screen romance and accidental badassery goes, he left me extremely impressed with his performance and every part of his character I bought into. Kristen Stewart, his onscreen counterpart, complimented and bounced off Eisenberg's character excellently, with her brain also fried from the drugs the pair of them do, she had this intense and emotional performance that surrounded Eisenberg, and together they developed a very real onscreen romance that actually tugged at my heart strings. Whilst Kristen Stewart's acting was great, how her character was written on the other hand I didn't agree with.
Whilst the dialogue, action and characters were written brilliantly, where Kristen Stewart's character ended up during the film I really didn't agree with. I won't give it away, but with regards to what happened I thought the film could have been even more entertaining if her character stayed the same should I say, or was written just a tad different, I just really didn't see a reason as to why her character ended up the way it did. With some minor plot holes here and there that just niggled at the film and bugged me for a small while, they were soon eradicated from memory whenever an explosive action scene was taking place.
American Ultra is a flawed beauty, a hugely entertaining teen film with brilliant action. Nima Nourizadeh and Max Landis have created an instant cult hit, hilarious and well written characters, alongside some drugs and some top class fight scenes. Collider Video and Schmoes Know panelist Kristian Harloff called it "Pineapple Express meets Jason Bourne" and that is the exact sentence to describe this film. Definitely go check this one out.