My hubby and I happened upon a trailer of American Ultra a few days ago and decided to give it a run. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
The story begins with stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) trying to do something nice for his long-time live-in girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) ahead of trying to propose to her. Unfortunately, our good-natured protagonist keeps having issues whenever he tries to leave their hometown. This last attempt of leaving for a simple holiday results in the leader of one chapter of the CIA putting a kill order out on the young man who is an unknowing subject of a government experiment that was closed down years before. Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton), the woman that started and then closed down the program due to concerns for the subjects, is given a heads-up from an unknown informant and goes to the town to activate the young man as a means to save his life from a desk jockey that has well and truly lost the plot.
The film is highly entertaining, pushing the right amount of well-timed humour. The dialogue primarily effected this, with a lot of really funny conversations that also helped move the story forward. However, this doesn’t discount the fact that our heroes were in genuine danger, having to react to what is a shitty situation. If you know your share of emergency responders like I do, you will often find many of them using humour as a coping mechanism.
To the cast, I am a big fan of Jesse Eisenberg from the get-go and really like Topher Grace. I was pleasantly surprised with Kristen Stewart’s character though. Stewart is known for some unemotional roles, but she managed to pull out a solid performance as Phoebe. Her character proved to be really important to the overall progression of the storyline, and not just as a sideline character. As for the rest of the cast, I think that the folks involved in casting did a freaking excellent job of bringing together actors and actresses that worked well together.
The plot was pretty solid as well, with the hero making understandable mistakes on occasion. Howell is likable loser, one held back from achieving anything because he is the product of a secret government experiment that caused some odd mental issues. By the end of the story though, you get the feeling like he grew into the hero that he’s wanted to be for so long. He is also backed up by his kick-ass girlfriend Phoebe who is a genuine partner and lover.
To the action sequences, they were really well played out. Some of the odd technical issues that you often see in other movies were kicked in the ass, with bullets actually having an effect on objects such as furniture. There was only one moment were you had to suspend disbelief, but it in no way hurt the entertainment value of the film.
In conclusion, this movie is a highly entertaining watch. Note though that there is drug use in the film, hence some folks may want to give it a miss if they have an issue with simulated use of bongs. If you are good with that, I recommend giving it a watch.