Director: Nima Nourizadeh.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace.
Running Time: 96 Minutes.
Kristen Stewart has come a long way since her Twilight days. She’s starred in the Oscar winning tearjerker Still Alice, where she was more than capable of holding her own against Julianne Moore. She’s also given marvellous performances in Camp X-Ray and Clouds of Sils Maria, a role which resulted in her being the first American Actress to win a coveted César award. She’s shown her talent for the dramatic, and now American Ultra shows she also has a flair for the comedic side of film.
There’s no point sugar coating it: the plot to American Ultra is rather ridiculous. But with a film this fun, and a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it really doesn’t matter. Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) is a stoner in small town America with a case of anxiety that holds him back from leaving town, much to the disappointment of his girlfriend, Phoebe (Stewart.) Oddly enough, Mike also happens to be a highly trained government agent, though he has not yet been activated so is unaware of his other, more dangerous, side. When he’s marked for termination, his handler (played by American Horror Story‘s Connie Britton) decides to activate him in order to save his life. Chaos ensues as Mike and Phoebe attempt to stay alive and figure out what is happening.
One of the most surprising elements of American Ultra is how romantic it is, though this can be attributed to the great chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart. The relationship between the two is heartfelt, layered and sweet, which is not something expected in a film of this sort. Is it shocking that it might be the best onscreen relationship I’ve seen in cinemas this year?
Even though we’ve had many stoner comedies over the past few years, mostly since Seth Rogen’s rise to fame, this film still manages to be fresh and, for the most part, better than its predecessors. The action scenes are a lot of fun and well shot. A beautiful neon-lit fight sequence in a basement comes to mind.
Eisenberg appears to be the perfect candidate to play the confused stoner assassin (who knew?), while Stewart also provides some chuckles in a role that goes beyond the stereotypical girlfriend of the hero role. If you told me three years ago that I would eventually be a fan of the then Twilight star I would have laughed in your face. Her bold choices in the past twelve months have shown she’s an actress to be reckoned with.
Verdict: Filled with enough action and laughs to easily entertain the audience for its running time and with a surprisingly heart-warming stoner relationship at its core, American Ultra is the most fun you’ll have at the cinema this month.
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