American Ultra is an American action cum black comedy film directed by Nima Mourizadeh and is one of those fast-paced films that take you by surprise in a good, fun, way. You get to enjoy momentarily the sleepy, slow paced, town of Liman, West Virginia, until everyone’s world is turned upside down in a fast and furious CIA operation. A slacker by the name of Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) works as a convenience store clerk and is planning to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart), but constantly fails the right moment. Before he gets to pop the question, he discovers that he is actually a sleeper agent trained in an underground programme to create super soldiers or a man-machine in doubt. But when the government decides he’s a liability, he and his girlfriend must do everything in their power to survive. Sounds a bit far fetched? Well it is, but it is a lot of fun with some violent outbursts and there is a high body count, but it is all very tongue in cheek.
There is competition in Langley amongst the CIA team and when CIA agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) learns that her sole surviving operative is about to be eliminated by her rival, Adrian Yates (Topher Grace), then she decides to take matters into her own hands to save her operative, as he is too valuable to lose. Feeling that she has a duty to protect Mike, who she says is just a human being trying to live his life, Lasseter travels to Liman and “activates” Mike through a series of word codes. Because of his excessive drug use, Mike fails to understand their significance, and she leaves in resigned frustration, but of course things start to go a bit awry and the action begins in haste, as the CIA are not trying to be covert, but fully out in the open and there is a lot of laughter to be had, as Mike has no idea how he can easily kill two men that are armed when he is not, so incredulity quickly turns to cold blooded killing to survive as he and his girlfriend are pursued around the town.
We had a lot of rollicking good fun watching a trained killer who didn’t know he was a trained killer mow the ‘enemy’ down one by one, as they under estimate his skills and tenacity. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart excel in this movie and change your perceptions about their abilities, as these roles are totally different to anything they have done before and it is fun to watch them on screen. But this is also a film about supporting actors, so Bill Pullman and John Leguizamo put in some small but great work, but Topher Grace and Connie Britton have a lot more screen time and a lot more fun with their oral battle CIA shenanigans. The plot rolls from one thread to another and after a while you realize it is a hide and seek and shoot to kill situation which provides a lot of laughs. A rare black comedy cum cult film that brought humors back to life in the last decade.