A hapless stoner discovers he is secretly a government sleeper agent
when he is marked as a liability and pursued by a team of CIA assassins.
American Ultra (2015)
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Written by Max Landis
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton,
Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, Tony Hale, Bill Pullman,
John Leguizamo, Stuart Greer
American Ultra was considerably darker than the trailers deemed it to be. I suppose they drained every last bit of comedy they had into those trailers, because nothing in this film made me laugh even a bit. This is a film about murder, betrayal, brainwashing, and the sad fact that you're never in control of your own life. Doesn't that just sound hysterical? What little jokes that remained in the film were half-assed one-liners that almost always failed to land, leaving the film as a dark screwed-up hybrid between The Bourne Identity and Dude, Where's My Car?
Despite a weak script and very poor direction, the action scenes are impressive and the performances are relatively decent. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have surprisingly good chemistry, considering I don't care for either one of them. Topher Grace hammed it up as the main villain, delivering a solid effort. Connie Britton's character was under-developed and Bill Pullman was just underused. Hell, the entire CIA part of the story was either ignored or explained away very quickly. This is a film about the failure of a government program to turn three strikes drug offenders into sleeper agents. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would we all not want to hear both sides of this?
In the right hands, this could've been a decent film. With a lighter tone, this could've been a watchable film. I'll never know why nobody stopped this from being the finished product. The super dark tone of the film doesn't match the subject matter or the characters' personalities, almost like the score and lighting were borrowed from another film and poorly spliced into this one. American Ultra is a weak disappointment that tries so hard to be two things that it prevents itself from being either of them.