Sunday, August 23, 2015

American Ultra

Movie Name: American Ultra
Year of Release: 2015
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Tony Hale, Stuart Greer, Michael Papajohn, Monique Ganderton
Genre: Action, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

"American Ultra" is the new film from Nima Nourizadeh, following his feature debut "Project X" and a string of music videos for artists such as Bat for Lashes and Hot Chip. The film follows the story of Mike Howell and Phoebe Larson, a young couple living in a small town in Virginia. Mike runs the local Cash and Carry, and has been involved in petty crimes most of time he's lived there, whereas Phoebe is the more grounded one of the couple. Unbeknownst to Mike however, he's actually a secret agent from the C.I.A., and he has become the target for a young and ambitious agent who wants to clean up the project from which Mike came from - and that includes killing Mike. When a task force goes out to take Mike down, they end up finding out just how lethal type of an agent he actually is.
"American Ultra" is an interesting film that lives from the dichotomy of finding a stoner type character as a lethal weapon type of secret agent. On top of this apparent dichotomy there's also the perfect casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Mike - he deftly embodies and brings to life the shy and awkward Mike, who's unaware of his own skills, and who progressively comes into his own. Both he and Kristen Stewart manage to bring a level of dynamics and complicity between their characters, that livens the film. The supporting cast is unbalanced, with Topher Grace basically repeating the same character he has played in every single film he's been, something that Connie Britton, John Leguizamo and Walton Goggins alleviate with their colorful and far more nuanced performances. The film is engaging, while the director is creating the set up for the characters, but once the splatter starts, some of that dynamic edge starts losing some of the momentum. Still it's a film that manages to captivate and entertain.