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Not a comedy - but a crazy, violent, suspenseful ride peppered with a healthy dose of black humor
gogoschka-15 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
OK, the first thing you need to know about this film is that it is NOT a stoner comedy; in fact, I wouldn't even call it a comedy. I'm glad I had already read some reviews about this film complaining that the film's marketing campaign was very misleading, so I didn't watch it with the wrong expectations. After the lukewarm reviews, I actually didn't expect anything from American Ultra and I was more or less prepared not to like it – imagine my surprise when I enjoyed it from start to finish.

The main character's story-arc has been compared to Jason Bourne's, which certainly makes sense; but while American Ultra shares certain themes with the Bourne films, I found it to be much closer in tone and story to The Long Kiss Goodnight: it's a crazy, (very!) violent and suspenseful ride peppered with enough black humor and action to keep you entertained throughout; it's a film that's not even remotely realistic and it doesn't mean to be (but let me stress this again: it is NOT a comedy). In my opinion, this didn't deserve to flop; if films like Fifty Shades of Grisly Soft Porn can make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box-office, an unconventional (but very entertaining) little action-thriller like American Ultra should at least have been able to make its budget back. If you take it for what it is and you like your films R-rated and slightly twisted, I can't see why you wouldn't enjoy it. 7 stars out of 10.

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A Fun, Flawed, Underrated Action Film with Unlikely Heroes
brando64712 May 2016
American ULTRA is not only one of the most underrated films of 2015 but one of the most unjustifiably detested as well. It was far from perfect, but was it bad enough to warrant a meager 43% score on Rotten Tomatoes? I don't think so. Some of the dialogue landed with a thud and Walton Goggins could've toned it down a bit, but otherwise American ULTRA was a pretty slick little action film. In a year full of spy films, most will forget this little tale of the CIA and experiments gone wrong. Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pothead living in rural West Virginia with his longtime girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). He enjoys a peaceful life of smoking weed and working nights at the local general store and his only concerns are the occasional harassment from the local sheriff and crippling panic attacks whenever he tries to leave town. What Mike doesn't know (or, more accurately, doesn't remember) is that he was once part of an experiment with the CIA where he was trained to be the perfect assassin. When the program started showing adverse mental effects on the subjects, the project was closed and Mike, the most successful of the test subjects, had his memory wiped and was given his new life. But now a young CIA upstart (Topher Grace) sees his chance to make a name for himself in the agency and begins a new operation using his own trained killers to eliminate the remnants of the old program….including Mike. It'd be an easy enough mission, if someone hadn't activated Mike's programming to give him a fighting chance.

American ULTRA had been advertised as a stoner comedy, which was pretty deceiving. This is an action film with an equal balance of dramatic and comedic elements. There are few beats meant to get the audience chuckling but all of them are in the promotional materials, giving the impression this is more HALF BAKED than Jason Bourne. In reality, it's somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. And when you approach it from that angle, it's a pretty fun movie. It's a quick and easy 95 minutes that flies by at a sharp pace. The movie is pretty much in gear from the moment it begins, slowing down for a few brief moments to build on the relationship between Mike and Phoebe. I've seen this movie two or three times now and I haven't been bored yet. On the contrary, I dig it. Jesse Eisenberg is admittedly a strange choice of action star, but it works because Mike isn't supposed to be your average action hero. He's not supposed to be much to look at; as far as we (and he) are concerned, he's just a stoner who draws comics on the long, lonely nights sitting behind a cash register. Eisenberg works for the character because he can do neurotic incredibly well. When Mike starts slaughtering would-be killers with whatever mundane he's got handy, it's just as shocking to himself as it is to them. He has no idea what's happening; one minute he's straightening shelves, the next he's assaulted by a couple of men and he's jamming a spoon into one's neck with skills he's unaware he even has. With this disconnect and the resulting confusion, it's right in Eisenberg's wheelhouse and he rocks it. He's also got fantastic chemistry with Kristen Stewart

In fact, I'll come out and share my opinion that this is probably one of Stewart's best roles. I made a point of avoiding the TWILIGHT series so I've only really seen her perform as Joan Jett in THE RUNAWAYS and Snow White in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, and I've never shared the contempt most people have for her. I think she's got some skill and I've never seen her as good as she is in American ULTRA. Now, there's a "big reveal" halfway into the film that's a little hard to swallow but, for all of her interactions with Eisenberg and Topher Grace, I loved her. While Eisenberg and Stewart are a perfect pair of heroes, our villains aren't as strong. Topher Grace does really well at portraying smarmy and conniving and his character Yates is both of these things, but he's also too immature for me to believe he would've been promoted as far as he had and been given the opportunity to institute his own crazy operation. I loved his bickering with Stewart and some of his tantrums were amusing but whenever he tried to come across as threatening, he flat-lined. Walton Goggins is the other big baddie of the film as the only CIA super soldier worthy of remembering, Laugher. I love Goggins and it's great to see him in anything, but I hate Laugher's trademark forced hyena laugh with a passion. He's much better later in the film when he brings the craziness down a few pegs and his character starts coming to his senses a bit; I loved the final moments in the last battle between Mike and Laugher, almost as much as I loved this exchange earlier in the film when Laugher is preparing to set fire to a car that Mike's trapped inside:

Mike: (yells from inside car) "I hate you!" Laugher: (pauses in dumping gasoline on car to yell back): "Well, I f***in' hate you too, man!"

It's simple and stupid but it gets a laugh from me. There are a lot of little moments like that where humor peaks through the carnage. John Leguizamo has a small role as Mike's drug dealer that's good for some laughs and Mike's own naivety provides him with some good material. It's a perfect blend, really. I'm disappointed to see the lukewarm-to-cold response American ULTRA received. If you haven't seen it yet, I'm giving it a recommend. I think it's worth it and it might surprise you.
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Actually Entertaining
staypuff-589-88393712 May 2016
This review does not contain spoilers, it just talks about the actors and the general mood the film has.

I started watching this expecting to hate it quite a bit, because I really don't like Jesse as an actor at all. I was quite surprised to find myself laughing, feeling and getting excited from the very beginning. I guess you could say that this movie was "ultra" fine ;). The action was great with enough blood for someone who likes movies along the lines of Kick-ass and similar. The comedy was funny enough to punch through the serious moments of the movie to give you a quick laugh before it throws you back into the quite depressing storyline. The twists (while i expected them a mile away unfortunately) had you feeling heavily for the protagonist. My final thoughts about this movie are that Kristin Stewart really can give a great performance. Do not judge her just on twilight.

If you don't enjoy this movie even a little bit i think you really need to lighten up.
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I didn't expect to be so entertained
callanvass15 January 2016
(Credit to Mr. Moiz)

Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends most of his time getting high and writing a graphic novel about a superhero monkey. What Mike doesn't know is that he was trained by the CIA to be a lethal killing machine. When the agency targets him for termination, his former handler activates his latent skills, turning the mild- mannered slacker into a deadly weapon. Now, the utterly surprised Mike must use his newfound abilities to save himself and his girlfriend from getting wasted.

This was far better than I expected. When my best friend wanted to see this, I wasn't sure what to fully think. The trailers looked average to me and I expected very little. Much to my surprise, this isn't your average stoner movie. This one has plenty of creativity. What really makes this movie is the able cast, especially the two leads. Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart play off one another beautifully and have terrific chemistry with each other. You're able to care about them and what they are going through. Topher Grace is an above average villain as well. For the action fans out there, I think you'll be pleased. There are enough explosions and fight scenes to satisfy.

This movie has a little bit of everything and plenty of creativity. It's a bit of a shame that this didn't make much noise in theaters because it deserved to. Not everyone will get the satisfaction I got out of it, but I recommend it highly

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Second degree
charliep147 January 2016
Anyone who watches this movie and takes it at face value won't enjoy it. As is often the case with over the top, over exaggerated movie, check your common sense at the door and ride it like a roller coaster.

American Ultra is ultra violent, ultra simplistic and yes, a little stupid. But I think it's supposed to be?

As B Movie or just "childish R Rated" pleasure, this movie works. A lot of things going for it actually: a very punch mise en scène, some good casting and good performances from Kristen Stewart & co. given the genre and topic.... and yes, good fun.

Given the negative reviews, this may sound defensive but I am sure that a lot of people will enjoy it for what it is. DOn't expect the next Avengers and yes, don't expect anything deep.
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This is a fun movie, and I would say it has the soul of a romcom, in an action movie body.
dandaman-5160015 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Some upfront information, the main character of this movie gets stoned, repeatedly. If someone smoking in a movie ruins it for you then you won't like this motion picture. However him being a stoner (while mentioned and a minor plot point) isn't the all consuming central theme of the movie, this isn't Pineapple Express: Spy Who Smoked Me.

I found the acting to be above average, and more importantly the characters are well written and believable. I liked the story, and by the end of the movie I was wholeheartedly rooting for the romance as well as several supporting characters to succeed. The only gripe I have with the movie is the near terminator like aspect of the main character, this is however during the "third act" and is perhaps unavoidable.

The film does an amazing job at trying to disorient you when it wants to, in spite of laying out a road map in the opening sequence.

Huge congratulations are due to the animator for the credits. The style, and play of them where a fantastic end to the movie and really had me leaving with a smile on my face.

I thought it was a good movie, certainly better then other films that came out this year. The true test will be if I ever want to watch it again, but only time will tell.
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Tonal Mess
matthewssilverhammer28 August 2015
If the new movie American Ultra was half as clever as it seems to think it is, it would be a bawdy treat. The design is extremely stylish and even nobly unique, but underneath those flairs of fun is one of the most identity-confused films ever, a true mess of genres and tones that never quite finds its footing. The cool premise and individual moments of fun can't overcome how poorly executed the final product is. Ultimately, AU is proof that a mash-up of good scenes without a cohesive center does not a good movie make. Eisenberg and Stewart play a pot-loving couple who learn that their lives may be more than they seem as they run into trouble with the CIA. It's Pineapple Express meets Bourne, but can't decide which one it more wants to emulate. At both times absurdly funny and oddly sincere, all the performers seem to be in different movies. On the villain side, we've got Goggins giving a Joker-like performance as a darkly hilarious, mentally disturbed madman, while Grace seems to think he's still on a sitcom, delivering lines with off-putting snark. On the other end, Stewart and Eisenberg fumble between broad comedy and indie drama with little clarity or success blending the two. Not that it's devoid of laughs; it manages some humor when it focuses on the identity crisis of a slacker-turned-trained-killer. Unfortunately, our hero wasn't the only one trying to awkwardly discover himself; so was the movie. What could've been an inventive little comedy ala Scott Pilgrim or Zombieland is an ultra-mess.
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A Fun Dramedy
allstarrunner18 August 2015
I'm not a film critic or a film connoisseur of any kind; I rate a film based upon how much I enjoyed it and if it would be worth the money to shell out at the theater. With that in mind, I gave this film a 9/10.

The best way to describe this movie is Bourne meets CHUCK (the TV Series). It is a Dramedy at it finest - it isn't straight up drama and it isn't a comedy, but it has a nice mix of both, leaning a bit more toward the comedy side of things.

I couldn't stop smiling throughout the movie; it was well paced, the character development was good (don't expect anything too deep), the comedy was well timed, and the action was exciting. For a lighthearted film, there were a few moments that definitely pulled on the heartstrings.

If you're looking for a fun movie to watch, and especially if you're a fan of CHUCK (think of this as an R rated CHUCK), then I highly recommend this move.
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Stoner Comedy meets Action Suspense.
The_Light_Triton21 August 2015
When it comes to blending action with comedy, some films hit the mark (Lethal Weapon & Rush Hour) and others, don't (Paul Blart) but when you combine action/suspense with stoner comedy, then what leads is one of the most fun films you'll see this summer.

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is an everyday small-town stoner, who works a bland job at a market, with the goal of marrying his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kirsten Stewart) but what he doesn't know, is that he's actually an experiment conducted by a CIA agent named Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) and that the CIA has put out a hit on him. With lots of time and money invested in Howell, Lasseter goes out to his little town and "activates" him, turning him into a stone-cold killer. But while he's the perfect killer, he's also a sweet guy who just wants to be with his girlfriend.

First off, I want to say that this flick was funny as hell and chocked full of good action. I had a good time watching it and I was rooting for Mike all the way. But while this film is awesome, I have some complaints but i'll get to them after the pros.

Jesse Eisenberg nails the role of stoner perfectly. He's a chilled out lovable guy who just wants to be with his girlfriend and a joint of marijuana. You want to climb into the screen and smoke a fat one with him. and you want to watch his back when he's surrounded by 6 assassins...not that he'd need you.

Kirsten Stewart might be known best for her role in Twilight and of course we all know how much those stories mean to single women who spend a lot of time writing fanfictions inspired from a Danielle Steel paperback, but here, she's actually not that bad. She needs to do more comedy cause she works well as the "straight man" or woman in this case. Although she might be typecast for romance films, maybe someone like Ellen Page or Kaya Scodelario would've been a better Phoebe, but hey, it's Kirsten Stewart. can't change it now.

Connie Britton fits her role well too. It's almost like watching Colonel Trautman with Rambo from First blood, assuming Mike Howell is John Rambo.

OK, now the complaints. first, the obvious. The shaky camera....Hollywood, get it through your thick dumb skulls; We HATE shaky cameras during fight scenes. It doesn't make the scene more exciting or interactive, it just makes the fighting hard to see. Enough already!

John Leguizamo. The guy is awesome, one of my personal favorite actors and half the reason I came to see this movie. And they gave him the persona of a wigga. Really? This guy was Benny Blanco from the Bronx and Luigi Mario...OK, maybe that wasn't his shining role as Luigi but he should've at least gotten more screen time.

Overall, I totally recommend this film, but maybe you should get baked before going to see it. Or at least get baked for the ending.

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Not worth the time.
morrisonjohnmark1 March 2016
I don't give movies bad reviews often. I am the kind of guy who enjoys movies for what they are, and can usually find something to enjoy even in less than great movies. I don't require some deeper meaning in my movies, or even a stellar plot.

That said, I have no idea how this movie is carrying a 6+ on here. This movie is truly bad. It isn't the worst movie of all time...but it is bad. Bad. It isn't funny. The action isn't good. The acting isn't good. The special effects are beyond bad. The plot is it's one redeeming feature, and it just isn't very good either.

Seriously. If you are like me and check movies on here to see whether it is worth it or not to sit down and watch, either avoid this or go in knowing it is a 4 at best, and that is being generous. Just a bad bad movie.
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Succeeds in it's own genre
acfritzke-876455 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is the Bourne film that's essentially written by Seth Rogan. The characters have a simple comedic feel, like those of The Pineapple Express (2008). Instead of a cold-and-edgy corrupt government bureaucracy, it's satirically incompetent. Instead of a cunning Matt Damon, there's Jessie Eisenberg who at a point in the film just wants to go home and smoke weed. And then instead of fighting other cunning assassins, Eisenberg combats thugs such as Laughter, a sociopath without front teeth.

The film naturally draws comparison to Zombieland (2009), a film also starring Eisenberg. In both films there is a motif of a lame kid accomplishing great things. Both films also capitalize on morbid humor. And both films have a warm happy ending.

The warm happy ending of American Ultra includes Eisenberg forsaking the life of a stoner for that of a government agent. So now the only stoner is the director, Nima Nourizadeh, whose dgaf approach to film making includes the avoidance of stereotype film genres. This can be observed in his first major film, Project X (2012), and I hope it can be observed again.
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Very fun movie to watch
mythicalcaesar18 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very rare movie that actually made me laughed out loud. It was full of comedy and scenes that would make you blow up trying to hold in your chuckle. One of the best comedies that I've seen in a while. It will definitely crush a few movies this weekend.

This seemed to be a very well thought out movie in the way that the comedy and serious scenes were spaced. The comedic parts seemed to come "naturally" if you could say that. There didn't seem to be any forced joke or forced build ups. They just came out without trying that hard. You didn't get too much comedy that you forgot that this was an action movie and not too much action that you thought you were watching Expendables or something. It wasn't forced is the only way I can say it.

I'm not giving away spoilers, but I got some Cup-O-Noodles at the end of it. Perfect marketing for this movie. I click the spoiler box just in case.
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nikolravens29 December 2015
If you've seen the trailers, I suppose you expect this to be one of those stoner comedies, only it is not. American Ultra is at most a dramedy, though its drama far outweighs its comedy percentage. The mood is somber, the actors are technically good enough, the premise is good, only – I found the execution lacking.

The more I watched this movie, the less excited I was about it. At times, it tried to be far too dramatic and touching, failing at both, and at other points, it did so unintentionally. I liked the idea of the sleeper agent who is an ambitionless pothead, but the explanation to his condition was lackluster and not well thought- out. Let's not even talk about the villain; he was comically one- dimensional and flat.

Jesse Eisenberg, to be honest, bored me. At no point did I find myself feeling for him. I am not sure if it is due to the casting or poor writing, but I found the main character wholly uninteresting. However, I was interested in finding out more about him in the past, and was sorely disappointed when that was left to the wind. As for Kristen Stewart – meh. I will admit to liking her (mostly outside of her acting career) but at critical points, even I will admit, it was like listening to her reading straight from the script. I did like her physical dedication to the role, because she looked like shite, but that cannot save the role.

As a whole – I was very disappointed by this film. Aside from the false advertisement, which I wouldn't have minded if the movie had turned out successfully, the writing was unpolished, the actors bland, and the whole thing a mess.
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American ULTRA rocks my socks off!
Ramascreen19 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In the words of "SouthPark"s Towelie, 'You wanna get high?' Yes, I do want to get high on Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg, cinema's most awesome couple this year in American Ultra a movie that rocks my socks off. No better way to describe it than if Jason Bourne was a stoner.

Scripted by Max Landis who gave us "Chronicle" and directed by Nima Nourizadeh who gave us "Project X," basically anything that could ever happen, happens in "American Ultra." From explosions and firepower, mental patients trained as killing machines, a young power-hungry CIA desk jockey who thinks he knows what's best for the agency, John Leguizamo, all the way to an irresistible beautiful but bloodied love story, this movie has it all, well.. except for ghosts, demons and the usual suspects, you catch my drift. To me, "American Ultra" brings that same fun that flicks like "Zombieland" and "Shoot 'Em Up" gave us, where you just want to see cool things happening all the time. And the story and the characters are still there, they're not neglected at all. The action sequences are elaborate and they serve to speak about the characters rather than the other way around. And let's face it, everyone of us has that switch in us that turns on whenever we watch somebody with a set of particular skills be both hardcore and vulnerable.

Jessie Eisenberg plays Mike Howell, a convenient store worker who at first seems insecure, he gets panic attacks, at times he can feel paranoid and extremely apologetic, he's in a long-time relationship with Kristen Stewart's character, Phoebe, in this small town USA, a place that's usually ignored or overlooked on the map. Meanwhile at Langley, an order has been activated by Topher Grace's character, Adrian Yates, to eliminate agent Howell, an order that's not taken well by Howell's former boss, Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) who's determined to help Howell. Basically if you've seen spy thriller movies, shows, or read spy thriller books about people trained to become intelligence assets since they were very young, you'll come to understand how this character Howell came to be. This lethal sleeper agent whose memories were erased, would have to summon back his inner skills in order to survive and save his girlfriend.

Obviously, this isn't Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart's first rodeo together, you can see how effortless it is the dynamic between the two, such ease, so in sync, they can read and understand each other very well. And because of that, there's something real about their characters' relationship. The film's fast-paced and high-octane energy keep you alert and anticipating. Not a single boring moment. I also have to give credit to Topher Grace who plays the villain, he's like a little brat demanding respect who he doesn't deserve and Grace plays it perfectly. The movie is also the perfect blend of action and comedy, I personally think it's way funnier than "Pineapple Express" if you want to go there for comparison. So add "American Ultra" to your list of Saturday night popcorn movies, I guarantee you won't regret it.
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Good trailer - awful movie; dim, depressing, lame
bopdog22 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I sincerely think my dismal rating of this movie is more than just a mismatch in taste. The trailer looked good, actually. Kind of a whimsical "out there" dark comedy. Turns out the trailer was pretty much the whole movie - at least the good parts of the movie. I was up for it! I was let down, though.

There was nothing funny - as far as I could tell (again, I'm being sincere), no jokes were even attempted. Seriously - those who have called it funny or a laugh riot leave me rather perplexed. I can only respond, assuming non-studio employees actually said that, with "Really?" The look of the movie was dim - and the settings were shabby to the point of being totally depressing.

After the movie, on the drive home, I had the sense the creators of this film were probably shooting for a "Bourne Identity" thing. And that's OK! Lofty ambitions that turn out to be WAY out of reach are fine - laudable, in fact. We all need to dream, after all. You have to admire gumption. But there was nothing "Bourne-ish" about this save for a clumsy and thin attempt at some plot lines.

I certainly wish the cast and crew better luck with their future projects. This, however, was awful, as my one star in the IMDb rating bar says. Not a swing and a miss, so to speak, but rather not even in the ballpark.
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Another Failed Attempt to Turn the Annoying Jesse Eisenberg into an Action Actor
claudio_carvalho3 July 2016
In Liman, the pothead Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is hunted down by the CIA under the command of agent Adrian Yates (Topher Grace). However Mike is a skilled assassin trained by CIA and his mentor Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) activates him. Soon he learns that Yates wants to shutdown the program and kills him. Now Mike and his girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) need to escape from a CIA team of assassins.

"American Ultra" is an overrated imbecile film with a stupid story lost between action and comedy about a Nikita-like CIA program of assassins that is shutdown. This is another failed attempt of the studios to turn the annoying Jesse Eisenberg into an action actor. However the film never works; the jokes are not funny and the story is absurd and ridiculous. My vote is three.

Title (Brazil): "American Ultra: Armados e Alucinados" ("American Ultra: Armed and Alucinated")
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not worth the dollar you'll spend at redbox
cassidyorme19 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I don't understand why anyone would make a film with no plot? did they do it as a joke? or to just see if they could do it? what i really think happened was,

hey we haven't made a movie for stoners in awhile lets make one. what should it be about.. it doesn't matter stoners will watch anything if they think someone will do drugs in a movie.. OK lets do it..

i honestly think that was all the planning that went into this movie.. all the rest was just winging it.. like shutting down the city, or sending two people over and over and over again when you had a bunch of men, actually i could just list every scene in the movie as a why are they doing this, especially when they both supposedly have training.

just because someone says something like, you know what would be cool Jason Bourne on drugs, while they are drunk or on acid or whatever doesn't mean its a good idea for a film.. and this movie could have been good if they decided to write a story behind it whatsoever.. i don't know why anyone would see this in theaters, its not even worth a dollar at redbox. and because it was such a waste of time i will now be avoiding this writer and director in the future...and i have never done that before but this film made me realize these people have no depth and i will avoid it like i would avoid a blonde bimbo
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Awesome Movie - Saw Preview Last Night
sharihawk19 August 2015
Saw this last night as a free preview and we were blown away (as was the rest of the audience - people applauded at the end). Great cast, great story, and awesome action. Never saw a trailer of this flick or heard of it, but will definitely tell family and friends to go see it. Was funny, dramatic, and what unfolded was a constant surprise. You never knew what was going to happen next (which is rare for me at the movies - I always guess what is coming next). LOVED John Legiuzamo - he was hilarious as Jessie Eisenberg's friend. Always love Topher Grace (blew me away in Predators and Spiderman 3 and think he should be used a lot more in movies - very underrated). Final review: Go see it - think you'll enjoy it.
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Original, not Memorable
bardia-moose16 September 2015
American ULTRA is an action-packed comedy that doesn't deserve the bad rep it's been getting. The writing was really strong; Max Landis injected clever and quirky dialogue into a pretty simple story, giving it its own definitive personality. There's a ton of pot smoking, there's a whole lot of killing, and Jesse Eisenberg plays a badass action hero. Yea. If you're not down with any of that, don't watch this movie.

The chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, who've worked together before, is one of the best things American ULTRA has going for it. You completely believe them as this young couple; the 'tree and car' metaphor in the film, despite being top-tier pot talk, was quite touching. I can't really say the same thing about Topher Grace though; almost everything he said was outright cringe-worthy and over-the-top. It's strange though because, on paper, his character is a perfect match for the kind of tone this film was going for. Unfortunately, he just ended up feeling out of place.

Many people are describing this movie as a cross between Pineapple Express and Bourne Identity, and it's difficult to argue against that. I know what you're thinking; it's a bizarre marriage indeed. But when you watch this, the amalgamation actually works. The jokes don't always hit, but the action hits hard. And while it's engaging and well choreographed, the film never takes itself too seriously; the balance between stoner comedy and crazy, bloody violent action is handled well, not as seamless as one would hope though. And through all the insanity that transpires, American ULTRA still manages to maintain a heart.

I can positively say that I enjoyed watching American ULTRA. Is it a great movie? Hell no! I wouldn't even call it good, but it's funny when it needs to be, the violence, while excessive at times, always fit the story, and it's original. If you're someone who wants Hollywood to simmer down with all the reboots and sequels, then go see American ULTRA in theatres. You'll have fun and, at the same time, be supporting originality in cinema.
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It started sucking 15 minutes in...
evan_harvey4 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
... and never stopped.

And that's the truth. There were so many missed opportunities. The stoner-Bourne idea was completely wasted, and it ended up being a charmless violent ball of rubbish. Poor direction and poor editing. The story line is weak, and there's too much reliance on swearing to try to make it funny. Every opportunity for comedy is missed. The acting is okay, but the direction and editing are terrible. The pacing is really bad as well.

The current IMDb rating of 6.5 is generous, but should tell you that it's not as good as the trailer makes it seem.
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Cant Smoke Enough to even understand
ravenfaust31 August 2015
Im not sure how this movie made it from Script to screen, there is no character development, a generic plot line which really seems to go nowhere.

The Actors in this film are big names but the movie is just horrible.

Maybe they were all on drugs while making this or something.

Save your money, watch Something else!

Even the actors in this movie seem to hate it.. lol

I don't think you could be drunk or high enough to even understand what is going on.

The Movie theater was kind enough to give me a refund.
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Not "Ultra" Good
tktansey26 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"American Ultra" tries very hard to be a good movie. But since it can't decide what kind of movie it wants to be, it misses the mark on all fronts.

For instance, this could have been a good comedy. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mike Howell, a neurotic stoner who spends his days puffing away on an endless supply of joints, drawing cool underground comics, and working as a convenience store clerk. All while trying to work up the nerve to propose to his equally stoned girlfriend (played by Kristen Stewart). It's what he knows and he's happy enough doing it.

What he doesn't know is that he's actually a brainwashed, highly trained, phenomenally deadly CIA asset. One day he gets 'activated' and all hell breaks loose.

The government is out to get him, assassins come out of nowhere, bullets fly, and things explode. Many people die in many inventive ways, most at the hands of poor, confused Jesse Eisenberg. You know how your stoner friend can make a bong out of anything? Eisenberg can use anything to kill a person. If it's handy, it's lethal. Add a supporting cast that includes Topher Grace, John Leguizamo, and Tony Hale and the jokes should write themselves. But director Nima Nourizadeh has his actors take this far-fetched plot far too seriously and what humor there is falls flat.

"American Ultra" could also have been a good action movie. Early on there's a thrilling shoot out that puts you in mind of the famous police station massacre in the original "Terminator". There's another scene later in the movie that reminds you of the department store shoot out in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith". In between, people chase each other, beat each other up, and there's even a drone strike. So there's plenty of action going on. But there's no real momentum to the story. There are good guys and bad guys, but we're never quite sure who is what and therefore the stakes never get as high as they need to be for this to work as an action movie.

Conversely, "American Ultra" could have been a good drama. Eisenberg and Stewart make a very believable couple, as anyone who's seen "Adventureland" can tell you. What's more, their characters here really seem to care about one another. There's a heartfelt scene between the two as they sit observing the clean up after a random car accident. It's honest and poignant and the characters reveal themselves beautifully. Then the movie separates the two for most of the middle section and that connection is lost.

So what we end up with is a mish-mash of styles and stories. Maybe it has something to do with there being too many chefs in the kitchen. Watch the end credits and you'll see that there are 18 different people listed as 'producer'. You'll also notice that four or five different production companies were involved. They say a camel is a horse made by a committee. Maybe that's what happened here.

Still, there are things to like about "American Ultra". Just not enough to make it a good movie of any kind.
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Tries to Be A Cross Between The Bourne Identity and Pineapple Express But It Falls Flat On Its Face
CANpatbuck366430 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
American Ultra opened against Hit-man 47 and Sinister 2 and it was there and gone just as quickly. Max Landis, the writer came out and criticized the movie going public for not watching original movies. As much as he would like that to be true, I don't think that was the reason American Ultra bombed. I think that real problem is that this move was an uneasy mix of genres combined with unlikable characters but what do I know.

*Minor Spoilers Ahead* When we meet Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) he's locked in a cell. He's taken to interrogation and he's questioned about the days leading up to that day. Mike gets a quick flashback of some of the events in question and then the film rewinds to 3 days earlier. Mike works at a convenience store in Liman, West Virginia and he has a girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) who he plans to propose to. Although he loves her deeply, he's worried he's holding her back. He spends his days smoking pot, hanging with her, and working on his graphic novel about a space travelling ape. He even planned to take her on a special trip to Hawaii but he gets super anxious and had a panic attack leading them to cancel the trip.

One night while working, a woman comes in and starts muttering incoherent phrases. We have learnt that her name is Victoria (Connie Britton) and she works with the CIA. She has recently had to give up her program which revolved around taking low level drug offenders and turning them into sleeper agents. The agent who took over her program Adrian (Topher Grace) belittles her and is arrogant because he believes that the modification that he has made to her plans have made them more effective. He wants to liquidate the failed assets (including Mike) which prompted Victoria to rush to Liman to try to save him. He doesn't activate though and she leaves disappointed. He then he hears a disturbance outside and snaps into action, killing the two assailants who were screwing with his car with a spoon. He freaks out then calling Phoebe to come help him.

I'm surprised they went with Jesse Eisenberg as the lead. He can pass as a stoner but he wasn't believable as an action hero. He wasn't helped by the script or the dialogue but even then he wasn't all that impressive. I was surprised that Kristen Stewart was out-acting him. Her part was a little less fantastical but she does a better job selling it. She gets a bad rep because of the Twilight movies and as awful as those movies were, maybe it's time we give her another chance. When it comes to the supporting cast, I didn't like Topher Grace here. He's not a bad actor but I think he's yet to find his niche, he ends up in a lot of bad movies. Connie Britton was fine, John Leguizamo was a little off and Walton Goggins was completely wasted, he's a great character actor but he's given so little to do its sad.

On the positive side, I didn't mind the action scenes, they weren't bad but they weren't anything special either. I say that because I found the rest of this movie to be pretty boring. The plot was different but it wasn't terribly interesting in the end. The movie could still have gotten past that but the other problem is that its so hard to root for Mike. He's such an idiot and even though Phoebe shares his interests, he doesn't deserve her. When he's not getting high, he's always having panic attacks or waffling under any kind of pressure. It was grating to watch and even though the movie get's a little better when he becomes activated, it was still too much to overcome.

The cinematography is interesting at points and even though the plot isn't anything new, I will say that it's not completely formulaic. Despite that since the movie begins at the end and then rewinds, you do see what's going to happen and even if you didn't catch it completely, you will be able to guess the ending.

This movie wants to be the new Pineapple Express really badly and it just can't match it on the comedy front. It isn't a ripoff, I'm not saying that but instead of mixing and matching movie genres I wish it had been more selective and developed the story more. I didn't even really get why Adrian and Victoria can't find common ground, they obviously have different ideas but Adrian is just a stereotypical entitled asshole whose motivation isn't really explored. Also why was it absolutely essential to kill Mike in the first place? He has no memory of the program and the only side effect was that he became anxious when he tried to leave town. He didn't even activate instantly when Victoria travelled out there. These questions are addressed but they aren't fully answered.

I don't think the failures of this movie are anyone's fault specifically, it just didn't come together as it should have. I was pretty bored throughout, the action scenes while passable aren't crazy enough and the acting while decent couldn't elevate past the uninteresting characters. This movie didn't fail because it's not a superhero movie or because it's not a sequel to an already successful picture. It was just underwhelming pure and simple.
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American Ultra may appear like a simple Stoner Action/ Comedy film, but it does progressive get complex as time wears on.
Amari-Sali20 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This movie honestly was surprisingly good. To the point that most of the hate I usually have for Eisenberg, since he seems so pompous in 90% of his roles, has temporarily disappeared. For, like Stewart, we get showed that we cannot fully judge their talents by past characters, and their off-camera persona. But what really drove me to firmly place this in the "Worth Seeing" batch is that it hits all the things needed in a film. It is funny, without trying too hard; can get you emotionally invested, because it has lovable characters you want to root for; has a twist or two, which some may or may not guess; and it has a satisfying ending which leaves everything in a nice, neat little bow. Making it so that Adrian, as a character, might be the only true negative about the film since he sucks as a villain.
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Amateurish Direction for a same-o story about a secret program of the CIA.
Dr_Sagan13 November 2015
The story of this movie has been told over a million times in recent years. A ...special secret (!) program of the CIA that generates Jason Bourne-like super soldiers. Such programs had over the years lots of cool names like Daylight, Treadstone, etc. for this movie...Wiseman (!) it is! Wiseman is supposed to cost ...$400,000,000 and American Ultra had a budget of $28,000,000 but it doesn't show...

The movie has an amateurish style and direction. It is aesthetically not pleasing and it looks like they shot it in a parking lot over the course of a weekend.

I'm not a fan of Kristen Stewart but I consider her a good actress with a broad range of facial expressions and emotions and she delivers in this movie too. Topher Grace is adequate too but the rest of the cast looks like they prefer to be somewhere else including Connie Britton and the veteran Bill Pullman.

There are some actions scenes where the mighty spy kicks some ass but overall the movie fails to produce a satisfying result.

Maybe in the hands of a more capable director and a reworked script (written by the son of John Landis) this movie could be better. At least for 90 minutes of action fun...
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