American Ultra

Posted in Reviews, Top Stories by - December 01, 2015
American Ultra

Who are we, really, as individuals? Many of us spend the entirety of our existence searching for the answer to that question. I’m of the belief that we don’t truly know who we are. How would that feel to consciously be unaware of who you are and what your purpose is in life. What if inside we all truly have a predetermined purpose in life, and it takes a traumatic event to bring that out in us.

American Ultra explores that concept by introducing us to Mike Howell(Jesse Eisenberg), a low-life stoner who has taken the way of life, and underachieved. We begin by reviewing the last 24 hours of his life in a series of one second flashes. I’m a fan of this technique, as it cleverly puts into perspective how that time in the protagonist’s life must have felt for him. It also does a great job of garnering my attention for the rest of the film, as I anxiously await the scenes that contained those action packed moments I have been teased with. We then pick up the narrative where it all starts, showing us a series of events where Howell disappoints his always magnanimous girlfriend Phoebe Larson(Kristen Stewart), leading up to the moment where we find out Howell is actually some sort of covert government agent gone wrong. We spend the rest of the film watching Howell attempt to evade the feeble evil villain that is Adrian Yates(Topher Grace), accomplished by a few battles against fellow government operates. Throw in some conventional action scenes, negligible love moments, and respectable comedic jokes sprinkled in between, and you have your bog standard action-drama. With the exception of a few underwhelming twists, the movie is predictable with an anticipated ending. 

American Ultra’s valiant attempt at arousing cinematography falls a bit short, as it’s explosions and gunfire feel frivolous. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart pair up once again(Adventureland) to lead a mediocre cast who gets the job done, but certainly won’t wow you. I don’t attribute this to the lack of acting talent, as overall I’m of the opinion that with the exception of Kristen Stewart, the cast is full of acting potential. Max Landis does a decent job with the writing, although the concept of the film, while interesting, prohibits him from expanding on the characters with any real depth.

The film explores an investing narrative, and is an enjoyable hour and a half to watch. I will admit however that I have a bit of a “film crush” on Jesse Eisenberg, which leads me to enjoy each and every film he’s been involved in. American Ultra, taken as a whole, is not a particularly bad film, and I enjoyed watching it. It will not, however, make anyones list, as it falls into “mediocre” in just about every imaginable category. In lieu of watching this film, sit in silence and examine your purpose in life. It’s worth seeing if you might be someone else on the inside.

Official Trailer:

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