Published On: Thu, Aug 27th, 2015

‘American Ultra’ review: Stoners don’t make entertaining killer government agents

In case you ever wondered: Pot smokers don’t make good government agents, even when they are effective killing machines. Well, at least not as American Ultra attempted to portray stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) and his girlfriend (played by Kristen Stewart).

Mike is a total loser, unable to overcome his panic attacks to leave town or muster the courage to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Beyond smoking joints, Mike’s futile life as a grocery clerk would make every Kevin Smith proud as they laugh at Max Landis’ jokes until a federal program is turned on its head by Yates (Topher Grace) and they want Mike dead.

The twist is that Mike isn’t a loser, he’s killing machine, programmed by the government and is reactivated by Connie Britton’s Lasseter so he can fend off countless other “killing machines,” destroy the small town and fill the morgue with innocent civilians along the way.

John Leguizamo and Jesse Eisenberg in "American Ultra"

John Leguizamo and Jesse Eisenberg in “American Ultra”

American Ultra never arrives to the entertainment level of Zombieland, where the serious genre film is blended perfectly with a comedic spin. No, Eisenberg is stuck as the stoner, never believable as this “action hero” and the scene becomes a spy film trapped in a Ben Stiller The Watch.

Landis’ script is jammed full of profanity, cool little moments or tricks (frying pan bullet scene) – just enough to keep Landis employed in a 2015 Hollywood, void of original ideas. Shockingly, Stewart is not as distracting as her other films, but can’t overcome her lack of talent to make Phoebe remotely likable or engaging. The plot twists with her character make no sense and contradict most of her behavior in the first half of the film.

Grace is unwatchable as a foul-mouthed Eric Forman with a bad attitude and a badge. The best part of the entire film was another great performance by John Leguizamo as Rose, a volatile drug dealer covered in tattoos and Walton Goggins (Boyd Crowder on Justifed) as the crazed assassin Laugher. Their characters never develop into anything, but they steal every scene.

Overall American Ultra is on overrated mess,  firmly fixated on gory and stereotypes in between some good comedic moments. Eisenberg brings out the best in Stewart (the pair co-starred in Adventureland), but couldn’t ever sell the premise completely is this discombobulated playground.

American Ultra receives 2 stars out of 5 stars

Adventureland, Clerks and From Dusk Till Dawn fanatics can add at least one star, probably two, as this is their genre.

American Ultra poster

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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