I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
A whole week without a movie review? Time to rectify that with another movie involving secret agents! Is it just me or have there been a LOT of those recently?
At least this one has a twist in its comedic approach to espionage and kicking people. American Ultra stars Jesse Eisenberg as a stoner who slowly realises that he has powers beyond his control. Powers of kicking ass!
When I saw the red-band trailer for this movie two weeks ago for the first time, just before watching Southpaw, I thought two things. First, that this must be the 126th movie to feature the word “American” in its title (seriously look at this list) and second that it looked like a funny way to do the old “one-man-army” action film.
Like I mentioned or subtly implied in my review of The Gunman, this sub-genre of action movies is one that really feels like it has been oversaturated. Some people are beginning to get sick of the number of superhero films that are coming out nowadays, but everyone seems to ignore the fact that everyone for the past decade has been unsuccessfully trying to do one thing, re-do Bourne. Sadly, nobody has been doing anything about it. American Ultra is attempting to amend this.
Does it succeed? Let’s look at the positives.
Eisenberg is joined by Kristen Stewart as his girlfriend and they were both brilliant, separately and as a couple. Unlike with so many comedies, I genuinely felt like these two loved one another and that they’d want to go through the troubles that come their way to sort it out. They sort out these problems through some often funny and well-choreographed and satisfyingly brutal action sequences.
What surprised me was the amount of serious drama that took place in this action-comedy. A lot of the time it works really well, it gets you invested into our two excellent leads and for the most part is written rather nicely.
However, at other times I forget that I’m watching a comedy at all. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really funny jokes, but there are long periods of time where I feel like I’m watching a not particularly good thriller/drama. I feel like there could have been a few more jokes.
The film cuts back and forth between those chasing our leads for both good and bad reasons and the leads themselves. I honestly think one could do a fan-edit to cut out most of the former part. It’s just not as interesting as the other.
Now that’s not to say I don’t like this movie, I do, I really enjoyed it, particularly the chemistry shared between its two main stars and the fact that it took itself both seriously and with a pinch of salt. I just feel that it fell short of that Cornetto Trilogy and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang brilliant balance which has been and will probably always be the holy grail of action comedy (note the hidden comedy reference in that sentence).
Recommended Scenario: If you’re like me and appreciate the definitely flawed, but often underrated Knight & Day.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.