“American Ultra” manages to be very not ultra in many ways.
Walking into this, we expected to see this awesome mix of Jason Bourne in a Pineapple Express setting along with all the funny and memorable moments you’d find in a stoner comedy. If this is what you expected as well, prepare to be disappointed. What should you expect then? Expect Jesse Eisenberg to do his best awkward Bourne impression and Kristen Stewart to mail in another performance. As for the humor, don’t expect much. Other than a few token laughs, the jokes are dry, boring, and badly delivered. The film follows Jesse Eisenberg’s character Mike, as he discovers he was a government agent and brings his longtime girlfriend Phoebe, played by Kristen Stewart, along for the ride.
Nourizadeh’s directing tries to squeeze humor out of this screenplay, but it’s just not there. The writing is sort of interesting and overblown, just not in the right way. The writing and directing tries too hard to be both a full on action and comedy film at the same time, but they fail to achieve a good result in either category. In fact there isn’t a single great action, dramatic, or comedy scene in the entire film. It’s just average and a bit dull throughout. The film also leaves a great deal unexplained. After watching this movie, you feel like you’ve seen this before, because it’s filled with clichés and not a single unique aspect. At times it feels like the old TV show Chuck, although that had some redeeming qualities.
Jesse’s performance was good. He comes off well as an apologetic mess-up, but in no way do you find him to be a convincing stoner type. He does well in the scenes where he remembers his past and gets meta about life. The rest of the cast was not that great. Stewart has bad timing throughout the film and dialogue with her feels like she’s just reading words off of a paper without any emotion or natural flow. John Leguizamo did an ok job and provided some of the funniest moments. Topher Grace was less than stellar. It seemed like no matter what, he was always smiling.
American Ultra is an average film overall. It is now playing.