Monday, 24 August 2015

American Ultra

A stoner - 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.

American Ultra is a late-summer business for good-time-seeking young audiences. Those who saw director Nima Nourizadeh's moderately successful first feature, comedy Project X, will have an idea of the excess to expect here. It's a very mid-August sort of film, the kind that benefits from low. The first 20 minutes or so are pretty fun and provokes a few laughs by identifying multiple symptom of our generation. The script by Max Landis (Chronicle) delivers more of a big mess than anything coherent or genuinely engaging. Moreover, characters are fun. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are a sort of Bonnie and Clyde with a water bong. Unfortunately both of them, frequently great, are unsure footing here. They smoke, say "like" and the F-word a lot and eventually kick plenty of butt in a way that looks pretty good. Their relationship is revealed to have a history and dynamic that goes much deeper. 

However, the only aspect of Jesse Eisenberg character that feels genuine is his paranoia, which within the auspices of comedic action movie, is totally earned. Plus, some people come across as larger than life on screen but Eisenberg and Stewart really don't. There are some highly entertaining cameos. The action sequences build in size throughout the movie. There's chasing, fighting, hiding and urgent phone calls. All of what is nicely edited, big slo-motion shoots down come together in slick and engaging ways. This time around director has thankfully moderated her shaky-cam tendencies. Still, sensation is sensation, amusing discussions, witty characterisation and creative violence. Finally the most creative and witty part of the entire film may well be the animated and credits, which have a panache mostly absent from what's come before. I actually had fun with this movie though. The film doesn't aim for much but guess what? It's nor award season but the last weeks of summer. 

Overall, American Ultra is a bit lazy comically, the plot has some holes and the pace is not even but the love story is sweet.

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