American Ultra

2015 action comedy

Rating: 10/20

Plot: A super spy who doesn't know he's a super spy is scheduled to be eliminated, but he and his girlfriend fight back.

I'm going to be following the career of Jesse Eisenberg--an Eisenberg--very closely. Because you know who he's starting to remind me of? One Nicolas Kim Coppola. Here, he's out to prove that he's got action chops, playing a bright and mostly-stoned millennial. It just doesn't really work. I don't even know if I'd describe the performance as bad or not. I'd just describe it as Eisenbergian. Kristen Stewart, an actress who is about as thrilling as a thermos and who has the range of a cardboard cut-out of herself, adds virtually nothing. I don't believe their human story, and I can't buy the superhuman aspects of their story either.

This is one of those sharply-edited action pieces with hyperkinetic fight scenes and whoosh sounds. The violence is exactly what you'd expect, shockingly mundane. Blood's all over the place, folks are stabbed and blown up, hammers connect with skulls, and you wonder how there are so many bullets. But it's all just so typical that it becomes boring, and the stoner-Bourne angle doesn't work well enough to distance it from its peers. The story feels oddly familiar, and you're fairly positive you know exactly where it's going to end up and not surprised at all when the characters end up in the exact spots they do. Eisenberg morphs into Cage-light, and then there's an animated closing credits sequence that's probably the most entertaining part of the movie.

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