Thursday 17 September 2015

Review: American Ultra

World of Blackout Film Review

American Ultra Poster

American Ultra
Cert: 15 / 96 mins / Dir. Nima Nourizadeh / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

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

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
I probably wouldn't go that far…

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
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).

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Everyone's clearly having a great time, that's what's important (this really isn't a 'performance' film).

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
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.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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