American Ultra is Not So Ultra

Dylan Rupptrecht

Jesse Eisenberg plays Mike Howell in American Ultra, a stoner who just wants to propose to his love Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) and work his hometown in West Virginia.

John Leguizamo, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from American Ultra (AP photo)
John Leguizamo, left, and Jesse Eisenberg in a scene from American Ultra (AP photo)

What Howell does not know, however, is that he is actually a secret CIA agent that has been dormant and out of his consciousness for the better part of the past five years since he completed his training.

His chill, pot-smoking lifestyle is dramatically changed after a CIA supervisor (Topher Grace) gives the order to terminate those involved in the program Howell was forced to undergo.

What I love about this movie is the artistic style in which Mike Howell expresses his sensitive, true self.

I found the music and the cinematography unique from many other films; to give a loose comparison, I would say this movie feels a lot like the style of Warm Bodies in the sense that both movies have a dark tone while also displaying poignant character dynamics. This isn’t the first time Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have tag teamed before as both were the focal characters of the 2009 indie movie Adventure Land. The two actors continue to have great chemistry and deliver fitting performances.

The difficulty I have with liking this movie hinges upon how the film fails to maintain a consistent identity.

The premise is sound: a stoner with crippling anxiety discovers he has badass killing skills. Unfortunately, the movie wanes with too many deadpan stares, making it feel as though the sense of humor or drama is shoved down your throat. Also, it is hard not to cringe at how bad some of the dialogue is.

Over all, I would say American Ultra is a bit of a disappointment despite a promising premise.