Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) and Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) have a great life together, if you consider smoking a lot of weed, working dead-end jobs and never leaving the small town they live in a great life. At least they very much love each other. But their existence is completely destroyed when it turns out that Mike is the product of a CIA experimental program which used to be run by Victoria (Connie Britton). But Victoria was demoted, her program scapped and her new boss Adrian (Topher Grace) decided to obliterate the last remains of her program – that means killing Mike. Victoria decides to go against the plan and activates Mike, causing Adrian and his henchmen who came for him a world of trouble.
American Ultra is an entertaining film that is a little uneven but definitely fun to watch.
American Ultra takes its cues from many genres and stays with nothing much for a long time. Since I don’t much like stoner comedies, it was a good thing that they didn’t focus on that too much. But it also meant that the film felt a little all over the place: there were stretches without any comedy, the villains were so overdrawn they were more suitable for a parody than a comedy (especially Topher Grace’s and Walton Goggins’ characters were just too much), the gore came straight out of a horror film and was surprisingly brutal, the romance between Mike and Phoebe was sweeter than expected etc. I like genre mixes but the film doesn’t do itself many favors with its constant pace changing.
There are also a few plot weaknesses – to start with the biggest twist was no twist at all, and there were a couple of logical inconsistencies – and I would have loved to see a little more hand-to-hand combat and less shooting.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun watching it because I did. I loved how seriously the movie took Mike and Phoebe and their relationship, despite all the weed and the frankly ridiculous plot (I don’t mean that as a criticism). And Connie Britton was amazing as well. I wouldn’t mind watching an entire film just about Victoria.
But somehow the film just never gets off the ground. I can’t pinpoint where they missed their turn but somehow they ended up on the road to lukewarm smiling rather than actual laughing. It could and should have done better.