#REVIEW: “AMERICAN ULTRA”
In the same vein as high-functioning Stoner Comedies like Harold & Kumar and This is the End, Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) gives us his latest, a fascinating piece in American Ultra. The Action-Comedy centers on a government operative named Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) who doesn’t quite realize who he is, getting by at his job as a convenience store clerk. Little does he know he is marked for death by the government. On the verge of proposing to his girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), his world is turned upside down after a disgraced Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) reaches out to him to warn him that he (and she too) is being targeted by a tyrannical Adrian Yates (Topher Grace). Along the way, he makes a shocking discovery about Phoebe which could ruin everything they have built over the past five years.
American Ultra is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It is equal parts a hard-hitting, explosive and violent bloodfest as it is an underachiever’s Comedy. The verbal and physical punches thrown are unforgiving and although there are occasional lags, the Film manages to grab our attention by force and hold it. It is sloppy, just as it is tightly-choreographed and although it isn’t something that necessarily will speak to the general public, one cannot deny its wit thanks to a genuinely funny script by Max Landis (Chronicle).
What drives the Film ultimately is a perfect pairing of Eisenberg and Stewart, whom reunite a third time here after great results in Into the Wild and Adventureland. They both possess a perfect awkwardness and vulnerability, which keep them likable enough. Eisenberg takes many risks in his choices with his Mike in a performance that fares among his best work. Britton is a woman on a mission to clear her name and save her life and she may on paper appear to be an odd casting choice, but works perfectly, balancing out the abundance of ludicrous in the Story. And if Grace‘s mandate was to be outright abrasive and impossible, he nails it completely, although we aren’t sure his reasons for ridding of Victoria and Mike are strong enough to drive the Story along.
Elevation Pictures release AMERICAN ULTRA on Friday, August 21, 2015.