I see you’ve played knifey spoony before: A review of American Ultra

American Ultra (2015)

American Ultra (2015)

Jesse Eisenberg plays a stoner who finds out that he’s a sleeper type agent, whilst living with his girlfriend, Kristen Stewart, in a small American town.

This film had a lot of potential, two great leads with great chemistry (from their days back in Adventureland) to a neat premise that could’ve made a great, fun film. Unfortunately the finished product doesn’t quite end up being just what it needed to be. Its tone is never the same, veering from romantic drama, to stoner comedy, to full-blown action spectacle. Whilst these elements could have worked together, they don’t manage it here.

It’s a film with style, the credits, cinematography, music and editing reflect a vision, tying in a diversion into animation, with a nice bit of Hawaiian music and occasional gross out moments of gore, that please individually but don’t leave you feeling satisfied.

The romance between the two leads is believable, particularly because they sell it so well. Kristen Stewart is fantastic as Phoebe, and Eisenberg does paranoid, confused stoner hero as well as he could, even though both actor and actress have moved past these sorts of films, it seems like something they would have done years ago.

The film is not terrible, it’s not even bad, it’s just a bit muddled, and unfortunately a bit boring. When the leads aren’t on the screen, we are left with Topher Grace as the bureaucrat bad guy and Connie Britton as the orchestrator of the agent programme, who both do fine, but the film is far more run of the mill in their company, it just isn’t fun.

We do, however, get Walton Goggins as another agent, trying to take down Eisenbergs Mike Howell, and puts in a manic kinda scary performance, especially after he looses his front teeth. The action set pieces are fine, a spoon is used to kill a guy, which is fun, but there’s surprisingly little action. The film focuses itself most on the relationship between these two, and whilst they are believable, the film would be better served with more action, and more comedy, cause it ain’t funny.

In the end, it’s sadly forgettable, but I like the people, I like the concept. Shame about the finished film.

Rating: C+  5/10

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