This weekend, American Ultra hit theaters, serving as one of the last summer action movie hurrahs before the fall season takes over. Directed by Nima Nourizadeh (Project X), the action comedy flick has opened to some mixed reviews.
The premise of the movie is simple enough. Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) is a small town burn out, working at a local minimart and living with his long-term girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). Everything in Mike’s life points to this movie having the plot of an indie flick, from the excess plaid, to the angsty conversations on car hoods, to the protagonist having an unrecognized passion for doodling clever comics.
But one night, Mike’s familiar life is suddenly turned upside down after a violent encounter in the parking lot leads him to discover that he is actually a sleeper agent in the CIA, trained without his knowledge and suddenly activated. Finding themselves unwittingly flung into an intense life and death situation, Mike and Phoebe run from location to location in their sleepy little town, trying to stay alive and leaving a fair share of explosions and destruction in their wake.
Though the movie is not one to skimp on its display of pyrotechnics, including a memorable and quite literal fireworks show, the overabundance of blasts and bangs don’t take themselves too seriously. Rather than emphasizing the death and destruction, American Ultra uses the over-the-top violence to almost mock that of the typical action movie, calling to attention just how ridiculous they can get.
With the awkward Eisenberg in the lead role, every action-packed scene is just as packed with endearing ramblings that both call attention to the outrageousness of the situation and also make Eisenberg’s character one that the audience will undeniably find themselves rooting for.
Despite having a strong script to support them, the cast still showcases their ability to stand on their own through their on-screen chemistry. Eisenberg and Stewart work so well together that though the movie is advertised as an action film, their scenes together make it feel more like a romance.
With impressive fight scenes, quirky humor, and a surprisingly sweet love story, American Ultra really covers every base you might be looking for in a cinematic experience.