Thursday, 17 September 2015
Review: American Ultra
Cert: 15 / 96 mins / Dir. Nima Nourizadeh / Trailer
Well, this might be the most fun I've had in Jesse Eisenber's company since Zombieland (although his character here isn't a million miles away from that other). Like some inspired mashup between Clerks and The Manchurian Candidate, American Ultra tells the tale of Mike Howell, a CIA sleeper-agent turned stoner store-clerk as his worlds collide when he's marked for termination by his superiors.
The film's opening scene sees a beaten and bruised Howell (Eisenberg) in a police cell after the events of the story. What follows is a super-fast rewind of the tale, showing snippets of what's going to unfold and robbing the narrative of at least one point of tesion (Howell's survival) in the process; but it also drops plenty of call-forwards in the process and is an early indicator of the fun to come.
Massively entertaining when it's on-fire, and one of the very few stoner-comedies that didn't irritate me on any level (I generally find them quite self indulgent), American Ultra never quite manages to reconcile its dark-streak as the film's characters are drawn primarily for comedy, and the film's second act sags a little when things slow down and move towards traditional thriller territory. It's much better at being an action-comedy than an action-thriller, although the final showdown is almost Matrix-esque in its brutally slick precision.
As funny as the film is, I have to say that many of the gags from the trailer worked better in the trailer, due to the sharper timing. But, if Hawaiian shirts, gunfire, claw-hammers and astronaut-apes are your thing, there'll be plenty for you in American Ultra…
I probably wouldn't go that far…
If you buy it once it comes down to around £7, it'll stand you in good stead for nights in with friends and the mind-altering chemicals of your choice (legal ones, naturally).
Everyone's clearly having a great time, that's what's important (this really isn't a 'performance' film).
Topher Grace starred in 2000's Traffic along with Benicio Del Toro, who's set to make an appearance in 2017's Star Wars Episode VIII.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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