American Ultra

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John Leguizamo (left) steals the movie from Jesse Eisenberg.

Critics are hard to figure out sometimes. A couple of movies I didn’t care for got great reviews – Pineapple Express and Zombieland. This movie opened to mostly bad reviews, and it was fun.

Zombieland’s Jesse Eisenberg, and his co-star (Kristen Stewart) from Adventureland (a movie all of us critics liked)…actually had a bit of chemistry. That’s really something if you consider Stewart’s acting in most films.

The premise of this had a lot going against it. A mish-mash of genres: action picture, over-the-top violence, stoner comedy, indie love story. Yet it was different enough and had sharp enough writing.

Eisenberg is a slacker working at the local liquor store. It turns out he’s also a sleeper agent, that was taught a very special set of skills (which include how to kill somebody with a spoon you’re using to eat Top Ramen with).

When people try to kill him, his skills kick into overdrive. And really, that’s the whole story. His equally stoned girlfriend, who puts up with his many anxiety attacks and quirks, is now on the run with him.

Their first stop as at his drug dealers’ (John Leguizamo) house. Every scene Leguizamo is in works. An example that might not translate into a review, is when he thinks the best thing he can do is lock Eisenberg and Stewart in his basement. Eisenberg tells him from behind the closed door, “I think I could break this lock.”

Leguizamo replies, “Please don’t.”

Topher Grace plays the evil CIA boss that wants Eisenberg dead. It’s a shame that they didn’t execute how to…execute Eisenberg, in a more realistic fashion. That makes the picture take itself a bit too seriously when it shouldn’t. It’s hard to fault the director for this. His only other picture was the stoner flick Project X (which was surprisingly funny, too).

The film loses its way by the third act, but by that point, you’re already enjoying yourself.

It gets bonus points for showing a stoner eat cereal in the most unusual way, as well as a great fantasy football reference (nothing like getting hyped for the upcoming season); and on the topic of football, the most violent use of a kettlebell since Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs visited the UCLA team.

Just watching this “Bong Identity” gave me the munchies. I had to buy a box of Red Vines on the way out.

You should be warned, some teddy bears were harmed in the filming.

It gets 3 stars out of 5.

3 comments

  • bob pearl

    wow Im impressed as I can’t really find any fault with this movie review. It seemed a bit far fetched seeing mr social network meet ms twilight but it worked and I think she did a better job in this movie that all the twilights.
    Since for some reason you closed the comments in Straight Outta Compton which I have never seen done before(Maybe the cops said to shut it down,lol) I will just say I love it and it really shows how bad they were back then.
    Anyway at first I wasn’t buying it but when the spoon trick and then some of the looking around the room and the amazing ways Eisenberg was able to kill or knock out a mass number of CIA hit men or others like Jesse but not as perfect directed by non other then the dumb ass himself from the 70’s show, that got my interest up and it stayed until the end.
    Its a very strange movie and I doubt it will even make its money back but it was something different and Im glad I decided to go in an watch.
    I would give it maybe a 2 but I don’t mind a 3 as usually you are not that generous.

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