Review: American Ultra

Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in American Ultra

American Ultra stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg as a couple of CIA agents who were part of an experimental program run by a character played by Connie Britton. The actors were interesting enough that I gave it a try. I’m a little chagrined to admit how much I enjoyed it.

The movie was a spoof of every Bourne Identity thriller, a Manchurian Candidate type operation where the hero doesn’t know he’s the hero until somebody whispers the right words in his ear. Then he turns into a killing machine. The title is a reference to the CIA’s secret research project called “MK Ultra,” a mind control experiment begun in the 1950s.

Mike Howell (Eisenberg) is a hapless stoner working at a mini-mart. He has phobias and anxieties in great variety. He plans to propose to his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart). Into his mini-mart strolls Victoria Lasseter (Britton). She repeats the magic mantra numerous times and finally gives up because she doesn’t think it’s working. But it is.

She activated Mike because Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) decided Lasseter’s little experiment wasn’t working and he planned to kill Mike. When two guys sent to kill Mike show up, Mike discovers that he can kill people efficiently with a spoon and do a whole lot of things that don’t make sense to him.

From there on out, it’s just ridiculous. Over the top stupid violence with black lights and fireworks.

Kristen Stewart in American Ultra
Hey, Mike, your girl is all beat up. Whatcha gonna do about it?

Phoebe turns out to be Mike’s handler and CIA herself.

John Leguizamo is Rose, Mike’s drug dealer/fireworks connection. Walton Goggins is Laughter, a man seemingly impossible to kill. But then Mike ends up still walking and proposing to his girl after he’s been shot, stabbed, punched 10,000 times and burned in a car, so don’t get too worried about Laughter.

Connie Britton in American Ultra
It was worth watching the movie just to hear Connie Britton say “fuck” a bunch of times.

Tony Hale is Petey, the guy who won’t bomb anyone with a drone. Bill Pullman is the big boss who finally sees Lasseter’s point about what a great asset Mike is.

Part of the plot is that Mike is drawing a graphic novel about an ape. The ending credits show the ape act out some of what we just saw.

It ends beautifully when Mike turns into James Bond, Phoebe turns into Emma Peel, and Lasseter turns into Carrie Mathison. It’s just rubbish, really, but such fun rubbish. I actually really liked it.

Watch the Trailer for American Ultra

You can tell from the trailer how silly the movie is.

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