American Ultra (DVD)

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American Ultra (DVD)

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Review of "American Ultra (DVD)"

published 14/07/2016 | sellerleygirl
Member since : 15/02/2015
Reviews : 976
Members who trust : 120
About me :
I just got in trouble for sticking a piece of paper with my name on the TV while watching a film!!!!!
Pro An unusual but enjoyable film
Cons Do you know - I can't really think of anything!!
Did you enjoy it?
Characters / Performances
Special Effects

"I was ultra surprised that I enjoyed this American tale!"

American Ultra (DVD)

American Ultra (DVD)

American Ultra



I wrote this review initially around four weeks ago but it has only just been accepted by Ciao, so any mention to weather etc. is rather old hat now!!

After four weeks of glorious sunshine it started to rain! By the second day my house was clean and tidy, the washing was all ironed and put away, it was too wet to garden, go for a trip out or sit out in the sun (OK there was no sun to sit out in any way!)
So I indulged in a little afternoon TV watching; obviously there was nothing worth watching on the normal channels so I checked out the new releases on Sky Movies and opted for a film called ‘American Ultra’.
I sat down to watch it wondering if, like so many of the films I chose on Movies, I only lasted 15 minutes before I switched it off.
The fact that I am reviewing it here tells you that I did watch it all the way through – but what did I think about it?

“There is nothing more dangerous than a stoned cold killer"

The Film

‘American Ultra’ is a 2015 American action comedy/sci-fi/thriller film that is directed by Nima Nourizadeh and written by Max Landis. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart and was released on August 21, 2015, by Lionsgate.

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Produced by Anthony Bregman, Kevin Frakes, Raj Brinder Singh, David Alpert, Britton Rizzio
Written by Max Landis
Music by Marcelo Zarvos
Cinematography Michael Bonvillain
Edited by Bill Pankow, Andrew Marcus
Production Co. The Bridge Finance Company, Circle of Confusion, Likely Story, Merced Media Partners, PalmStar Entertainment, Tadmor Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate Films
Release dates August 21, 2015
Running time 96 minutes
Certificate 15

The DVD of this film was released on the 4th Jan. 2016 and as of 12/6/16 it is available to purchase from Amazon from £8.39 new and from £5.94 used or to watch on Amazon Instant Video from £9.99; it is also available to watch at no extra charge on Sky Movies in the Crime & Thriller section.
The Cast

Jesse Eisenberg as Mike Howell
Kristen Stewart as Phoebe Larson
Topher Grace as Adrian Yates
Connie Britton as Victoria Lasseter
Walton Goggins as Laugher
John Leguizamo as Rose
Bill Pullman as Raymond Krueger
Tony Hale as Peter "Petey" Douglas
Monique Ganderton as Crane
Stuart Greer as Sheriff Bernie Watts
Lavell Crawford as Big Harold
Michael Papajohn as Otis
Nash Edgerton as Beedle

The Story

I will make the story section very brief, as I hope that you will watch the film, and don’t want to ruin it for you with too many spoilers

The story starts with Mike Howell (played by Jesse Eisenberg) handcuffed and bloody, being interrogated in a police cell by government CIA agent Adrian Yates (played by Topher Grace). Yates asks Mike – as he throws photographs from a crime scene onto the table - “Where do you want to begin?”
We then see Mike look at the photos as flashbacks – a dustpan, a spoon, some noodles, a teddy bear, a frying pan, a fire, a drawing of Apollo Ape and the words "Marry Me." His verbal answer is “Okay, it started three days ago, in the town of Liman, West Virginia. It's where I lived with my girlfriend, Phoebe” And that is just where we are taken back to, in order to see the story unfold and just where all these elements fit in.

We see Mike as a neurotic, scruffy, long haired stoner who spends time puffing away on an endless supply of joints, drawing strange Apollo Ape comics, and working in a very remote looking drug store. He saves up and buys an engagement ring and tries to pick up the nerve to propose to his equally stoned, scruffy and long haired girlfriend (played by Kristen Stewart). He plans a holiday to Hawaii to propose but is too neurotic to make the journey.
Mike keeps saying “I think I’m a robot!” but what he is completely unaware of is the fact that in reality he is actually a programmed, highly trained, prodigiously deadly CIA product. Then one-day Mike gets 'activated' and all hell breaks out!

“If I die, I'm going to do it stoned and smiling in my bed.”

My Opinion

“Mandelbrot set is in motion. Echo Choir has been breached. We are fielding the ball.”

I think that I would sum up this film as being a young love story intermingled with ‘The Bourne Identity’ meets ‘Shaun of the Dead’!

After the initial opening with Mike in detention, when we are taken back to three days prior to this, my initial thoughts were that we were going to see a drug crazed psychopath on a killing spree. With a shot of surveillance picking up a picture of Mike and then the action being taken back to a government/CIA office I thought this was going to be a very weird film and couldn’t make my mind up what was factual and what was made up.
Soon though, I had a lot of empathy for the rather down and out young man who boasts that he and Phoebe are “the perfect f***d-up couple," stating that she's perfect and he's the f**k-up.
I found the miserly engagement ring he had bought for Phoebe sweet and I felt sorry for him with the panic attacks that stopped them from leaving the backwater they lived in and his seemingly, inability to do much at all – even cooking an omelette results in him nearly burning the house down.
He slobs about in the lonely cash and carry/drugstore, he draws some amazing cartoons and he smokes a lot of dope. Phoebe is obviously his rock - or his girlfriend, mom, maid, landlady and lawyer – as Sherriff Watts (played by Stuart Greer) comments halfway through the film; she mans the phone in a bond bail office (convenient, as Mike is continually arrested for possession.)
This sounds like a cheesy love story and with different actors it could have been so different but the two young leads are absolutely fabulous in this film.
I’m not usually such a fan of some of these ‘sweet young Hollywood things’ but both Eisenberg and Stewart really shone in this film. Jesse Eisenberg really delves into the character of Mike and really brings out his pathos, we feel for him all the way through the film. I think though that it is Kristen Stewart who makes this crazy love story work. She plays the sympathetic-girlfriend role with a kaleidoscope of emotions. Phoebe looks at Mike with love but with a look that says she sees exactly who he is, warts and all, but still wants to be with him. As she unpacks the bikini and Hawaiian shirt from yet another abortive vacation holiday, Ms Stewart silently demonstrates Phoebe's sadness and despair, and then, with a slight smile, she demonstrates her forgiveness and understanding.

Once the main storyline comes into play this turns into a real romance about two young people trying desperately trying to survive; with Eisenberg capturing the awfulness of suddenly realizing that his whole life has been a lie. "What if I'm a robot?" he whines. Once again, it is the strong Phoebe to reassure her fragile lover —. "You're not a robot," she insists, and we believe her.

I had never heard of the director, Nourizadeh; but he did a fantastic job of making what happened next to Mike and Phoebe very hard to watch. He kept the consequences of the violence that ensues excruciatingly real: The audience is left watching the young lovers endure some epic injuries and it is gripping stuff but yet it is all done with a sense of humour. Some of the fatal weapons used include frying pans, dustpans, frozen beef burgers and tins of tomatoes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film; I found it to be rather crazy, violent but in a watchable way, enthralling, fast moving and interspersed with enough black humour and action to keep you entertained right through the 96 minutes. It is not even remotely realistic and I have no delusions that it was meant to be - it is NOT a comedy but does have several scenes in it that do make you laugh – generally at the expense of the CIA agents!


Classified as a 15 I think that that is just about right; issues that could cause concerns for parents are as follows:

Sex & Nudity

There is no sex or nudity just some very some slight sexual dialogue and at one part of the film there is a room decorated with pictures of topless women.

Violence & Gore

There is no way round it, this is an extremely violent film; characters are shot in the head, blown up etc.; one character is stabbed in the face with a meat cleaver, many people are shot, there are bullet impacts in slow motion, with detailed blood spray and a wide range of the strangest weapons are used with fatal effect.


The ‘F’ word is used continually throughout the film.


The film has a high content of drug taking – mainly rolling and smoking joints and Mike's drug dealer friend crushes cocaine.
In Conclusion

This is a simple, unrealistic, stupid and wonderful little film and I can really recommend it. There are a lot of scenes where humour pops out through the bloody carnage. For a film that I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy I thoroughly enjoyed it and got completely wrapped up in it. If you haven't seen it yet, I really think it's worth watching – if you are thinking ‘Naw, not for me’ – take a chance it might just surprise you.

Thanks for reading
Sellerleygirl July 2016

Community evaluation

This review was read 490 times and was rated at
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Comments on this review

  • DodoRabbit published 24/07/2016
    I'm still unsure to what the film's premise is?
  • Secre published 22/07/2016
    I'm now on the fence. This is quite impressive as I was on the 'I would hate this films guts' side before reading your review. I'd give you an E but I have none.
  • xd-o-n-z-x published 17/07/2016
    e :)
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Product Information : American Ultra (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Actor(s) (Last name, First name): Eisenberg, Jesse

DVD Region: DVD

Director(s) (Last name, First name): Nourizadeh, Nima

Classification: 15 years and over

Production Year: 2016

Title: A

EAN: 5017239197703


Listed on Ciao since: 02/07/2016