Review by Matt Adcock
Director Nima ‘Project X’ Nourizadeh brings his ‘A’ game with American Ultra – an action comedy indie and thanks to screenwriter Max ‘Chronicle’ Landis, the film crackles with enough dark comedy alongside the crunchingly violent action.
Jesse Eisenberg is superb in the lead – wielding his winning geekiness and loveable charm even whilst cutting a swathe through the ranks of killers ranged against him. He is a highly trained special agent – able to tackle any threat with little more than the objects around him.
In his hands a dustpan becomes a means of decapitation, a spoon a potent murder weapon and a frying pan a bullet-deflecting trick shot bullet guidance device. But he’s not active like Bourne or Bond – he’s a stoner convenience-store clerk for whom life is a series of meaningless days and frequent panic attacks (which stop him from travelling) with the only high points thanks to his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart).
Stewart is a decent foil and proves to be surprisingly adept at helping Mike fight to survive.
The romantic core of the film works well too – the running joke of Mike looking for the right moment to propose to Phoebe adds a feel good element which helps offset the genuinely jarring violence. Mike is a fun unwitting hero – a lethal slacker who’d rather be writing his graphic novel about an astronaut monkey than fighting off goons.
The bad guys are led by vicious but pitiable Yates (Topher ‘Predators’ Grace) whose team includes the seemingly unstoppable ‘Laugher’ (Walter ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Goggins) who has more than a little of Batman’s Joker vibe to him.
Also on hand are Tony ‘Arrested Development’ Hale, Connie Britton and Bill Pullman all offering good support.
American Ultra is a cool, adrenalin fuelled romp, which offers a great alternative to more mainstream action films.