Friday, August 21, 2015

American Ultra Review

You know the Summer is ending when you look at the new movies coming to theaters this weekend and none of them look that appealing. Then you go look at their score on Rotten Tomatoes and sure enough all three of them are on the rotten side of the meter, two of them being in single digits. Ouch. On top of all this, Facebook is being flooded with back to school pictures and posts. Yup. It's late August. One of those times of years that is typically considered a dumping ground. If a studio is confident about the commercial success of a movie, late August is not the time they release it. I could've just avoided the theaters this weekend and no one really would've noticed. But I consider it a duty of mine to see the new movies in theaters so that I can inform my readers, whether the movie is good or bad. Plus, I always hold onto the hope that a movie I'm seeing could surprise me and be good. When it came to American Ultra, that hope was actually fairly high. This looked like one of this situations where you could check your brain at the door and go have fun. I didn't expect anything deep, profound, or mind-blowing. I just wanted to have fun with a late-August movie. Plus, this movie had two of my current favorite actors, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. So what the heck? I payed no regard to what others had said and went in hoping for a good time. And do you know? I had a blast with American Ultra!

I will admit, the premise of this movie is nothing to write home to. If you think too deeply about everything that happens or try to pick apart the movie, you'll probably be able to find a lot of things wrong with this movie. If you come to me later saying that you hated the movie, I won't be one bit surprised. This is nothing new. This is nothing creative. In fact, it's kind of a lot of different ideas thrown into one, but for me it worked. Here we have Jesse Eisenberg playing a stoner in a small town. Kristen Stewart plays his girlfriend that he absolutely adores and he works in this small convenient store type of thing that no one really ever enters. Life is just quiet and low key for him. But then some lady enters the mart and starts speaking some mumbo-jumbo to him. Shortly after, two guys approach him with the intent of killing him and out of nowhere he pulls off these crazy awesome moves where he kills both of these people while only being armed with a spoon. Yup. Apparently he is some sort of secret super-soldier that is now being targeted for termination and he's just as shocked as anyone at all of this. It's beginning at that point where we as an audience are taken on quite the wild ride as Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are simply trying to not be killed while both pulling off some crazy awesome moves in the process.

This movie is definitely not for everyone. I'll be up front with that. It's a contender for the bloodiest movie of the year and the language is pretty bad. If that turns you off, then avoid this movie. It's that simple. But call me crazy and/or sadistic, I enjoyed it. I've been known to be able to turn off my brain and enjoy action movies like this, so this shouldn't come as a huge surprise. In terms of the level of violence in the movie, Kingsman is probably a good comparison and I had a blast with that one, too. This one I felt was unique in the fact that Jesse Eisenberg was as weird and nerdy as it gets, but for some reason was able to pull off some pretty awesome moves. His reaction to these moves was priceless, especially that first time that he tried to explain to Kristen Stewart what had happened. He was fumbling all over the place and was as nervous as heck. It was great. You can compare it to Jason Bourne in the sense that both characters are super-soldiers with a mysterious past that they have no idea about, but the difference here is Jesse Eisenberg is a nerdy super-soldier who has no idea what he is capable of until he starts fighting. It's really the perfect Jesse Eisenberg role and if you've seen any of his movies, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Then there's Kristen Stewart. The two of them are just perfect for this movie. In fact, it's both of them giving excellent performances that makes this movie work. They have great chemistry as a complicated couple, which makes for a surprising level of emotion as we get deeper into the film. But they're just fun to watch. About Kristen Stewart. If you are one of those people that still bash her for her inability to act, we're at the point where you need to get with the times. One good performance could be seen as a fluke, but when it comes to the point where she gives an excellent performance in everything that she does, I think it proves that her Twilight performance was the actual fluke. Once again I will say that I think her performance in Twilight can be attributed to a poorly written character and a poor direction for the movie as a whole. Even the best of actors can sometimes give bad performances when they have nothing to work with and no one working with them. Just go watch The Phantom Menace again and pay attention to how bored great actors like Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, and Liam Neeson look the whole movie. My point proven. What I've learned to love about Kristen Stewart is that she is blunt and straightforward with her feelings. When she's upset or bored, she's not afraid to show it. But when she's into something, she goes all it. The latter is the case with American Ultra. She is so into this movie and is thus so fun to watch with the broad range of emotion that she brings to the table with her character.

So yes. I enjoyed this movie. Is it the most unique, creative, and thought-provoking movie? Absolutely not. It's fairly simple and straightforward with the premise and doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but that's just fine. It doesn't need to. It's just a movie that is trying to have a lot of fun and succeeds. What really makes it work as well as it does are the two stellar performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. Both of them are the perfect casting choice for their specifics roles in the movie and both of them give it their all. They provide action. They provide humor. They provide emotion. They have great chemistry. Because of all this, when this group is trying to attack and kill them, you honestly care for their well-being and you want everything to work out for the best. It's all extremely satisfying, especially in the final act when Jesse Eisenberg is just in the zone and you know that anyone or anything that crosses his path is in deep trouble. At just 95 minutes, this movie is also very simple and to the point. They could've dragged it out to two hours or more, but they didn't and that worked very well for them. One critic said that it was the funnest movie of the Summer and the marketing recently has taken that and ran with it. No, it's not the funnest time I've had at the theaters this Summer, but it's up there. My grade for American Ultra is an 8/10.

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