Jesse Eisenberg plays stoner Mike Howell who works in a crappy cash ‘n’ carry and then goes home to his stoner girlfriend Phoebe Larson, played by Kristen Stewart (Twilight). However, Howell is not all he seems and is in fact a government agent who is re-activated by his old boss when she learns of a plot to kill him by her own government.
Eisenberg is made for this role. The stoner part he plays absolutely brilliantly and once he’s activated and has to take out the people sent to kill him he plays it in this ‘how did I just do that’, ultra calm sort of way. It’s very good and very funny.
Stewart plays the love interest-girlfriend who you always suspect could do more if she weren’t with Howell but sticks with him regardless.
As things move on you realise that Howell was actually an experiment by the CIA and when a young upstart tries to make his mark, Topher Grace (Interstellar, Spider-Man 3), by killing Howell, his old boss Victoria, played by Connie Britton (Nashville, Friday Night Lights) decides to reactivate him in the hope he can save himself.
What follows is Eisenberg and Stewart running from the CIA and Grace’s newest batches of assassins including Walton Goggins playing Laugher. Eisenberg takes out agent after deranged agent in ways you can only imagine a trained killer who’s spent the last few years high would do, and some you probably can’t.
John Leguizamo pops up as Rose to play a very funny gangster-esq character who is Howell’s drug dealer and man who gets things.
The comedic moments come thick and fast thanks to writer Max Landis (Chronicle, Victor Frankenstein) with the action being placed in front of your eyes by director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X). There are some nice touches, Eisenberg and Stewart in a nightclub style setting with UV lights making for a surreal atmosphere, and some nice uses of slow-mo, punctuated by Eisenberg’s one-liners delivery.
Sure, it’s pretty obvious plot-wise and Topher Grace’s character feels a bit weak and not that well thought out, like a kid with a new toy, which is how I think it’s supposed to be but it just didn’t work that well for me. There’s also the worst CGI smoke you’ve ever seen (as-in when they’re supposed to be getting high).
That said this is a fun movie, gruesome and inventive deaths abound and it looks like everyone had fun with the characters they were given. Just don’t try and make a sequel please.
You can buy American Ultra on DVD over on Amazon here: American Ultra [DVD]
You can buy American Ultra on Blu-Ray over on Amazon here: American Ultra [Blu-ray]