Ultra-boring, more like.
A stoner (Jess Eisenberg), who is in fact a government agent, is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.
Eisenberg and co do their best BUT for all the promise, it fails to reach anything you could have expected.
The slow opener didn’t get things going BUT it suggested a Burn After Reading meets Pineapple Express vibe. Unfortunately it offered little on both. Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart reunite (Adventureland) and make a watchable couple. BUT it wasn’t long before I got bored of all the pot smoking and arguing. Especially when it wasn’t even funny.
The first 20 minutes was mind numbing. Connie Britton did her best to make the CIA back room melodrama seem interesting BUT it was dull as dishwater. Some waffle about a “project spring clean” and Eisenberg’s sleeper agent facing termination. This was thankfully reprieved by a fantastic turn from Topher Grace (That 70s Show). There wasn’t enough of him. He really took things up a notch and played the douchebag supervisor brilliantly.
I prayed for Eisenberg’s “activation” to come quicker. Watching the stoner smoke pot and battle his fear of flying while doodling graphic novels about a monkey astronaut was just terrible. Trust me. I’m making it sound a whole lot better than it was.
FINALLY after Britton’s funny rendezvous with a stoned Eisenberg, the film appeared to offer more of what I expected from the get go. Emphasis on the word appeared.
Eisenberg proved he can do fight sequences and do them well. I actually had doubts about the chap playing the iconic role of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman Vs Superman movie but the supermarket shoot em up sequence reassured any anxieties I had. He looked sinister and completely bad ass as he crept out of the smoke grenade ridden mist.
Normally I’m a fan of Britton BUT her character was far too serious for its own good. Arrested Development’s Tony Hale, who played her partner in crime, was tragically unfunny and completely irrelevant by the time the credits rolled. Shame.
John Leguizamo was also incredibly annoying as Eisenberg’s dealer Rose. He had one funny exchange with Eisenberg and then went on far too long. The bullets not coming quick enough.
It felt like the writers didn’t know what tone to take with the piece and tried a dab hand at everything. The action scenes were fantastic. The kitchen ambush sequence involving a bullet and a frying pan was cool. BUT they were few and far between.
As were the gags. It wasn’t funny enough. The best gags were heavily flogged in the trailer. Stewart and Eisenberg’s relationship was put to the test BUT their bickering just hampered things terribly. There was a twist half way through the film that was so dreadfully predictable that it added nothing to the mix.
Walton Goggins’ (Justified) Smiler had the potential to be a decent little villain with his hyena-esque laugh BUT it was a wasted opportunity and the character was far too weak.
The finale did deliver some frantic fist fighting and utterly bonkers shoot em ups. BUT it felt like a case of too little, too late. And it was still light on the laughs. DISAPPOINTING.
Unfortunately, American Ultra was very much like its protagonist; messy, all over the place and annoying.