The BOURNE series is one of my favorite book reads as well as one of my favorite espionage film sets. The concept of an extremely adept ‘super-soldier’ losing his memory is very compelling, and many things can be done with it. In AMERICAN ULTRA, Director Nima Nourizadeh asks what could happen if said ‘super-soldier’ is actually a stoner with several phobias and severe self esteem issues. The result is a high-caliber action-comedy that entertains on many levels.
If you are not familiar with AMERICAN ULTRA, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart star in this dynamic thrill ride that mixes explosive action with edgy humor. Mike (Eisenberg) shares a small-town life with his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart). But Mike’s sleepy world goes wild after he discovers that he’s actually a CIA sleeper agent with lethal fighting skills—and the target of attackers as he and Phoebe fight to survive in this exhilarating adventure.
I will be honest: I did not like Kristen Stewart much prior to watching this film. Granted, she was great in ZATHURA, but then she went on to do the soul-crushing TWILIGHT films. At that point, I thought her career was over. But in AMERICAN ULTRA, Stewart gets to lick her proverbial acting chops and show us she’s more than just a cardboard figure that can talk.
AMERICAN ULTRA is shot very well and appears to have a high production value. The sets look great, the attention to detail is evident, and everything meshes well to offer a great onscreen experience.
The acting is very good, with Jesse Eisenberg and the afore mentioned Kristen Stewart in the leads. I was thrown a bit by the casting choice for Eisenberg as the sleeper agent, however his skill as an actor shines through and he owns the role with the familiar quirky zest we have come to expect from him. Likewise, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, John Leguizamo, and Walton Goggins round out a superb cast.
The special effects in AMERICAN ULTRA are decent and fun. We are given a small dose of gore, but most of it is done in a comical way. I laughed and also found it interesting to see all of the nontraditional ways Mike comes up with to dispatch his foes. For example, in one scene, he uses a single spoon to kill two men.
The story is entertaining and compelling. I am impressed with how much depth the creators put into the film for having such a basic premise. There are many subtle inferences to concepts such as loyalty, faith, and love, and they all make you think. I like how the movie forces you to confront idealisms like this and still be entertained.
AMERICAN ULTRA is a big win for me, and I highly recommend it. Chocked full of action and dark humor, this is a film you won’t soon forget after its over. I plan on revisiting it in the near future, just to enjoy it once more. Be sure and check it out on Blu-ray, so you can enjoy the HD picture and sound. It is available today.