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"American Ultra" Review

Watch this:

It's The Long Kiss Goodnight (suburban mom Geena Davis discovers she's an elite assassin) as written by Seth Rogen, right? Correct! And you've pretty much seen the whole movie, minus the cussing and torrents of mostly-digital blood.

Jesse Eisenberg is a stoner with anxiety issues (which are easy to guess what their causes are) who loves his girlfriend, but doesn't know he's an asset from a CIA program whose members are being liquidated because that's what Evil Government does. The head of his program (Connie Britton) activates his programming (not that he's aware of it) so that when Topher Grace's crew of literal psychos comes to town, he's prepared to defend himself, not that he knows how he's doing it.

While there's potential in the well-worn trope of the killer-who-doesn't-know-he-is-a-killer, the script (by Max Landis, son of legendary director John Landis) is a bit of mess and director Nima Nourizadeh (whose sole previous work was the amusing "found footage" wild party flick Project X) can't balance the tone between the stylish and somewhat unsettling ultraviolence and the broad stoner comedy. There is literally little more than what's in that trailer.

A mid-movie reveal (see below for spoiler) doesn't make sense and the idea that they'd need to make a major operation to kill Eisenberg when a sniper capping him and a van swiftly swooping in to pick up his body would've actually been effective. Seriously, the trailer is pretty much the movie.

Score: 4/10. Skip it.

>>>>>>> SPOILER TALK BELOW!! <<<<<<<<

Mid-movie it is revealed that Stewart was Eisenberg's handler. While this allows her to do some kickass fighting, it totally moots her reactions to what happens in the first half of the movie when she genuinely seems shocked at what's happening. If anything, they should've rolled the Britton character into hers and had her trying to hide her CIA origins from him. Of course, if Grace had just done what I suggested, there'd be no movie. Eisenberg would've been whacked and done.


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