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REVIEW - American Ultra: The Stoner Bourne

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Jesse Eisenberg reveals latent ass kicking skills in the irreverent, hilarious, American Ultra. Eisenberg is Mike Howell, a hapless stoner, self-medicating his troubles away. Kristen Stewart is Phoebe, his loving and extremely patient girlfriend, who sees a kind, creative soul rather the dysfunctional slacker. They live in Liman (homage the Bourne director Doug, perhaps?) a sleepy, small town in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, in some dingy subterranean CIA office, Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton - Nashville, Friday Night Lights) pretends to be productive when she gets alerted that one of her assets is in danger. Adrian Yates, the obnoxious CIA colleague played by Topher Grace, now runs a new program that is cleaning up old problems. Victoria heads to Liman and tries to warn Mike that he’s in danger, but Yates and his goons interfere. Photo: americanultrathemovie.com

The supporting cast is comprised of excellent actors. John Leguizamo, always a pleasure, portrays Mike’s drug dealer and friend, Rose. His scenes are brief, but his confident charm provides a nice counterpoint to Eisenberg’s anxiousness. Tony Hale, who plays Petey Douglas (Victoria’s former colleague) and Walton Goggins (Laugher) are great comic relief amidst the chaos.

In the role of Mike, Eisenberg has found a part that blends with his naturally kinetic demeanor. Both Eisenberg and Stewart play everything straight, and they make a convincing couple. They starred together in Adventureland, so perhaps that created a degree of comfort for them, resulting in Stewart’s best performance in years.  

Director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) keeps the pace quick with the action disoriented as the hero. The soundtrack and score support the action. There are some excellent fight sequences and some surprising moments.

Screenwriter Max Landis, (son of director John Landis) crafted a fun, satiric tale that’s a successful mashup of two genres. If you’re a fan of classics like 3 Days of the Condor or the Bourne franchise, grab your friends, some munchies and enjoy the buzz.

The film is rated R for mature language, drug use and violence.

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

 

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Photo: americanultrathemovie.com