By: Cole Weinstein
Rating: 2/5 stars
After walking out of the theater, “Ultra” was not the word that I used to describe this film. “American Ultra” is about stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg), who flees his enigmatic past with his girlfriend, Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart), while endeavoring to discover the truth behind his life.
One day, Mike is at work when two armed men attack him. His instincts take over and, unaware of his actions, and armed only with a spoon and 60-second noodles, he kills them both. The next thing he knows, he and Phoebe are on the run from the government, desperately searching for the truth.
This movie fails in its attempts to be simultaneously a stoner comedy, action movie, and a romantic drama, all of which conflict with each other. This slew of varied themes distracts the audience from its central joke- the two protagonists are supposed to be high throughout the entire movie.
The acting isn’t particularly fantastic either; only John Leguizamo and Connie Britton are able to manage adequate performances, while Walton Goggins gives the only impressive one. Though there are many abysmal performances, the two leads are the worst. While I have been a defender of Kristen Stewart for a long time and have seen her give very engaging performances, she fell short in “American Ultra.” Throughout the entire movie, she remained emotionless and uninteresting; Eisenberg similarly was lackluster. He, like Stewart, just isn’t believable.
However, there are a few positives to the film. The extremely bloody and somewhat stylized violence, while completely contradicting the movie’s fractured tone, was enjoyable, although it would have been executed more appropriately in the hands of a more capable director. The film had a few laughs, mainly from Leguizamo, but even those were pretty sparse.
Even though this movie is a mixed bag of underdeveloped themes, it has garnered decent reviews from some fans and critics alike. Despite its failings, it might be worthy of a watch, so check it out if you’re curious, but be advised that this movie is a mess and will probably be a disappointment to most viewers.
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