Friday, February 10, 2017

American Ultra


  American Ultra is a movie I thoroughly enjoy. It's really as simple as that. It's funny, violent, and is a perfect example of how awesome Kristen Stewart can be when she's not shackled by the turgid prose of Stephanie Meyer. Also, Topher Grace is in here as the villain, who chews epic amounts of scenery. Then Bill Pullman shows up, basically being Bill Pullman. I mean, is there anything not awesome about this movie? Sure, it's cinematic junk food- but that puts it right alongside such epics of cinema as Deadpool, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kick-Ass. That's pretty good company to keep.

   Jesse Eisenberg is ideal in the lead role because he's the last guy you'd expect to headline a bloody, violent, action movie. Make it part stoner comedy and then it starts to make sense, but still. I'm not big on stoner comedy, but maybe if more of them had guys getting John Wick'd all over the place, I'd watch more of them. Oh, and I nearly forgot- John Fucking Leguizamo shows up as Eisenberg's drug dealer, Rose. He's in full OTT mode and its hilariously glorious. The little bits of dialog him and Eisenberg share are just golden.

  I think I like American Ultra because it's an action movie first, but it's also dedicated to the absurdity and inherent humor of its own premise. Yeah, there's plenty of laughs to be had, but they spill out in the midst of extremely tense and nerve wracking situations. The movie is smart enough to mine even its darkest material for a humorous lining. Somehow, there's still a balance. American Ultra isn't a parody, or a farce. Its characters are sincere, and the plot is serious, and I think that's why it works so damn well. It does get a little too off kilter at times, but that makes me love it even more.

   It's like when you're drawing something, and you kinda mess up, but it looks good for some reason- and you just know if you tried to fix it, it'd make it look worse. American Ultra is just like that. It's an imperfect movie, flawed, but that's okay. In fact, it's fine the way it is. Any measure of tinkering or re-shoots would've messed this movie up. The tone is bang-on, the pacing is ideal, and the cast is excellent. The story isn't without its little plot holes, but it functions well enough under its own steam that I've no desire to pick it apart. Like I said, cinematic junk food. If you're enjoying a bag of Funyuns®, you don't stop to criticize the list of ingredients.

   The last act of the movie is pure brutal action packed craziness, and it all unfolds in and around a local supermarket. How quaint. I enjoy the hell out of this movie, and honestly- why wouldn't I? Eisenberg and Stewart have surprisingly solid chemistry together, the romantic angle feels anything but stale. Topher Grace makes a great villain, and even Walton Goggins shows up and subsequently steals every single scene he's in. That guy is seriously underappreciated. All in all, if you're looking for a breezy, colorful, uncomplicated and super violent alternative to your averagely dour and bleak amnesiac-spy-on-the-run thriller, American Ultra should be your go-to snack food.

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