Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Written by Max Landis
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Tony Hale, and Bill Pullman
A stoner and secret CIA sleeper agent (Eisenberg) is labeled a liability by the head of the CIA (Grace), and he should be dealt with, permanently. However, he proves to be much harder to handle than anticipated.
American Ultra is a fun action comedy that excels with well-directed action sequences. The action scenes are fast paced, without being overwhelming chaotic. Topher Grace is great as the arrogant jackass type head of the CIA. Grace gives the strongest performance in the film and is the saving grace (pun obviously intended) of the film and commands every scene. American Ultra is a film that could have been campy, a stoner CIA sleeper agent, what is not campy about that. However, Landis’ writing and Nourizadeh’s direction manage to give the film a sense of fun and humor throughout.
While American Ultra succeeds where it needs to, it does have some shortcomings. While the film is humorous, and the actions action scenes are well executed, the humor is one note (the whole stoner thing) and the action scenes are forgettable. Aside from Grace, talented as the rest of the cast is, the rest of the performances feel mailed in. Granted he is playing a stoner, but for 75-80 percent of the picture, Eisenberg seemed somewhat checked out. Britton, Hale, and Pullman do little with their limited screen time. In the latest Mission Impossible movie, Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin make a lot of their limited screen presence. I wished they were in that movie more. Whereas Britton, Hale, and Pullman just phone it in. The plot of American Ultra is convoluted. Even when the plot is fully revealed, you still feel like “wait, what.”
Overall, American Ultra is a fun movie, it has action and humor, although, a lot of the humor is mostly reliant on the stoner thing and the action scenes are unmemorable. I would say that what works in the film is enough to push American Ultra to a 3/5.