‘American Ultra’ channels ‘Bourne’ + ‘Dazed and Confused’

Brianna Brooks, Student Columnist

If you like movies about government conspiracy and with breakneck action, all wrapped up in the guise of a stoner rom-com, I’ve got a movie for you! In the small town of Liman, W.Va., Mike Howell’s hapless, stoner lifestyle is about to take a turn for the bizarre.
Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) is like any other guy. He’s got a job working nights at 7-Eleven, a small house, and a girlfriend (Kristen Stewart), to whom he wants to propose. Slight setback: he can’t ever leave Liman because of inexplicable panic attacks … and CIA involvement.
As it turns out, Mike is a CIA sleeper agent and, after his last attempt to leave town, he’s been tagged as a liability. Confused?
Well, the film is not all that it seemed to be merely from the release of its first theatrical trailer. (Always look beyond the cover.)
Now, why should you see this movie? It’s a rare combination of two very prominent movie genres.
It would be credible to state that “American Ultra” is the technicolored lovechild of the charming “stoner” flick “Dazed and Confused” and the spy-adventure of the “Bourne Identity” series, both iconic movies of their genres.
From “Dazed and Confused,” the movie gets its directionless feeling to the characters, the comedy and real dialogue, and misses some out-of-reach greatness. From the “Bourne” series, “Ultra” takes the skeleton of a basic spy flick and, while relying on the idea of genetically modified agents and legions of evil-doers, brings an element of color to the table.
The movie does succeed in marrying together these two genres to create something that has never been seen before. It’s a different idea and you can never guess what will happen next. It’s fresh, it’s weird, it’s gory, and it’s funny.
Not kidding on the gore. If you’re squeamish, you may want to sit this one out.
Why else should you see this movie? Casting.
The movie is impeccably cast with Eisenberg as the main character, Mike. He brings a quiet humor and an awkward grace to the role and fills it with witty retorts. Eisenberg excels with handling odd characters.
Stewart, as Eisenberg’s girlfriend, Phoebe, holds her own throughout the film. Being wired to handle more austere characters, she has finally found a role that complements her acting abilities. And unlike previous attempts, Kristen and Jesse have wonderful on-screen chemistry.
Overall, from me “American Ultra” earns a seven out of 10.

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