American Ultra movie poster
B-
FilmJabber
NA
Users
YOUR RATING
A
B
C
D
F
American Ultra
American Ultra movie poster

American Ultra Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

A nice, silly piece of late summer entertainment, American Ultra is zany. But not zany enough. About a seemingly innocent idiot pothead who is actually a government-created killing machine, the bloody action-comedy is an innocuous 90 minutes of fun--but it's at best a guilty pleasure to watch on a rainy night.

American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as a couple who find themselves trapped and hunted by a rogue CIA force, led by a maniacal Topher Grace. The leads do a good job in their respective roles, with Eisenberg carrying most of the comedic weight by maximizing the material at hand. The movie is funny, but more chuckle-funny than LOL-funny, and you can tell the filmmakers were going for more.

Several of the scenes where Eisenberg struggles to comprehend the simplest of things work well, but the movie really shines when the action kicks in. Bloody, violent and often over the top, the action is satisfyingly lethal in its delivery.

Everything else is... okay. American Ultra is only 95 minutes, but even still it drags in a few parts, especially in the middle. There are a couple scenes that come off way too serious for the material, or at least where the comedy doesn’t hit home. Director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) and writer Max Landis (Chronicle) back off at times, subduing the story and characters and excitement factor, a strange decision considering that the one thing they needed to do better was to unleash the crazy. You can tell they sort of wanted to go all Smokin' Aces, but despite introducing an army of insane asylum-rejects-turned-soldiers the movie only succeeds in making one fleshed out villain (played wonderfully by Walton Goggins)--leaving a lot of wasted potential off the screen.

American Ultra is a movie that wants to be crazier than it is, an over-the-top piece of zaniness that isn't that over the top. In time, it could build a cult following, but as is, it's simply a perfectly fine piece of entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

B-
FilmJabber
NA
Users
YOUR RATING
A
B
C
D
F