HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  American Ultra The Sleeper Wakes
Year: 2015
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Tony Hale, Stuart Greer, Michael Papajohn, Monique Ganderton, Nash Edgerton, Paul Andrew O’Connor, Freddie Poole, Ilram Choi
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) sits in an interview room, bloody and bruised, handcuffed to the table and waiting to be seen. When a C.I.A. operative enters the room, he stops tapping his foot and observes the photographs set out before him and finally speaks, supposing the agent – and those watching behind the two-way mirror – would like to know the story behind how he got here. He rewinds his recent memories in his mind until he can explain how he was your basic stoner in a dead end town, with a low income, low energy job at the local store and no ambition whatsoever. Well, he had one ambition, and that was connected to his girlfriend, the equally unmotivated Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart)…

Yes, if Mike wants anything in his life it’s to be married to Phoebe, he has bought the ring and is just awaiting the right moment to pop the question in this comedy thriller that unlike writer Max Landis’ previous screenplay for Chronicle, proved tough to find an audience in its original release. Maybe it was down to everyone who had seen it comparing it to The Bourne Identity (or indeed The Long Kiss Goodnight), for which it was only going to fall short, or maybe they found the combination of Eisenberg and Stewart unappealing in spite of their Adventureland collaboration doing rather well a few years before, or more likely it was the thought of the duo combining forces to play action heroes that they balked at. Whichever, only their diehard fans had much good to say about it.

Eisenberg had grown his hair for his role, apparently believing that would make him more like a stoner in looks, but he didn’t really pull that off and didn’t suit it, causing a distraction that the rest of his performance was not able to rise above. Combine that with a fighting style that was hugely helped by fast cutting rather than any particular skill, and you could observe that the part of an unlikely killing machine was assuredly emphasising the unlikely aspect, possibly at the expense of the movie’s credibility. Stewart was better, but hampered by the twist in the middle of the story that anyone with any savvy would see coming a mile away, another distraction that forced you to ponder just how convincing she was in her screen persona as well as her co-star.

This left an odd impression, in that you had to accept that the central pair were not supposed to be convincing as expert counterintelligence agents or whatever they may or may not have been, yet you could only agree that damn right they were unconvincing. At this point Landis would have been expected to ramp up the comedy, as this was sold as a laugh a minute thriller, but as it played it was anything but, in effect with its many low key character scenes far more serious and sincere about the situation than it needed to be which had you musing that maybe you had been sold a pig in a poke, this was actually a straight ahead suspense and action flick coasting on the bizarre casting as a gimmick, but stick Steven Seagal in this plot and with a few tweaks this could have happily gone straight to video for the Friday night beer and pizza crowd.

If it wasn’t really a comedy, then what was it? As the title suggested, it embraced the counterculture paranoia about the security services, which at least was something to appeal to the stoners as Landis tapped into their latent (or overt) concern that they were being watched by sinister government forces, though if they were it was to keep a check on their drug intake rather than their threat to law and order. The MK Ultra programme was a mind control project undertaken by the C.I.A. from the nineteen-fifties onwards, using all sorts of dodgy procedures (including use of consciousness-altering drugs) to try and create a new kind of agent. Needless to say, it created a new kind of mental casualty instead, but here we were meant to believe Mike was a genuine success, or at least he would be if he could be ordered about once he had remembered his shady past and understood why he had mad fight skillz. It’s not a bad idea, but it was mixing two ideas that had been done to death and not coming up with a decent enough reason to proceed; by no means terrible, it was diverting enough, just far less exceptional than you imagined was the intention. Music by Marcelo Zarvos.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 5145 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
Date:
17 Jan 2016
  There were some comparisons to Pineapple Express too. Max Landis has rapidly established himself as an outspoken and occasionally astute SF/comic book/film geek taking pot shots at several high profile genre flicks. After American Ultra 'under-performed' he took to YouTube to bemoan the lack of audience support for original ideas instead of franchises and reboots.
       
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
17 Jan 2016
  "Original" is a relative term. Stephen King liked it, anyway.
       


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: