Review of "American Ultra (DVD)"

published 13/11/2017 | thedevilinme
Member since : 13/05/2008
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Pro Good fun
Cons Obvious twist
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"Bourne meets Clerks?"

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Star – Jessie Eiesenberg & Kristen Stewart
Genre – Action
Run Time – 93 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.S.A
Amazon – £5.68 DVD £4.00 Blue Ray
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So American Ultra from director Nima Nourizadeh, he of the irritating teen film Project X. It’s a cross between Jason Bourne and any other twentysomething teen stoner movie and stars the geeky Jessie Eiesenburg and the moody emaciated irritant that is Kirsten Stewart, reunited after working together in the rather enjoyable Adventureland.

As a promotional stunt to kick the movie on, Lionsgate Films gave away/delivered free marijuana at the San Diego Comic Con to anyone with a medical marijuana card. In America you can get a medical exemption to smoke dope for all manner of conditions in a move to keep white middle - class college kids out of jail.

The movie's title and plot are a referring to the CIA's secret, and real, research project called "MK Ultra". It was a project to combine the American governments accrued knowledge on mind control with what the Nazis knew about the same subject and techniques, the combination known as Mind Kontrolle, "Ultra", of course, referring to the highest level of security. The programs purpose was to come up with ways to induce their subjects with MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder), and find out how these alter personalities could be triggered on command (sometimes by simply uttering an innocuous phrase) to be utilized for other means, mostly military and spy craft. The person would generally have no recollection of afterwards of what actually happened. The Las Vegas mass shooter is the type of person who could have been on the program in the 1970s. Over 3000 people were on it at some level at its peak.

• 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


‘Stoner’ Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) lives in the small sleepy town of Liman, West Virginia, where he works as a clerk in a quiet convenience store. The gentle ping of neon, a bug settling on his nose and the occasional customer coming in is the only thing that keeps him awake.

He is planning to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) on a trip to Hawaii However, due to an irrational fear of travel in general, he suffers a panic attack and is unable to board the plane. This is not the first time he has suffered these attacks and has similar issues trying to leave town in the last two years and does not understand why.

Meanwhile, in the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) is taking a great interest in the innocuous store clerk. Turns out there is more to the stoner than meets the eye. But Mike’s memory of that time has been wiped somehow. He is, apparently, the sole survivor of her unsuccessful Ultra program, which is to be shut down by her rival, Agent Yates (Topher Grace), whose Tough Guy project has succeeded where hers failed.

Lasseter feels a duty to protect Mike as Yates sends in his goons to bring him in. She anticipates this and travels to Liman and tries to "activate" Mike through a series of code words so he can defend himself from the onslaught to come but because of his erased memory, Mike fails to understand their significance, and she leaves the store in resigned frustration. But those Jason Bourne skills are embedded in him and instinct kicks in when he is cornered by two heavies dressed in black with guns and dispatches them – with a spoon. He now knows he may not be the stoner store clerk he thought he was as the US government descends on his small town to shut him down.

Mike Howell: I just killed two people!
Phoebe: That's awesome.
Mike Howell: They had guns and knives and they were being total d*cks!
Mike Howell: Something very weird is happening to me: I keep killing people! There's a chance I may be... a robot!


This film not taking money like it should have is an example of the power online movie critic websites now have over mainstream opinion and definitely cost this movie a decent return, its $28 million budget bombing with just $27 million back. It’s a much better movie than that. I suppose Ciao’s job is exactly that and to give the peoples opinion on films. I hope my 100 or so films reviews year do that. The ‘professional critics’, who are generally white men, middle aged and middle - class decided American Ultra wasn’t all that on the grounds of the stoner stuff and so a tomato spalt put a lot of people off it. I probably would have not have watched this at all because of, if it had not popped up on Film4 last week.

Its good fun and well written and I chuckled all the way through in the way Kick Ass was fun. It is a film of two halves though and the second bit somewhat sillier and formulaic but still fun in the way Universal Solider was in the 1980s. A few fairly telegraphed twists and turns keep it fresh and although a cheeky spoof of Jason Bourne in all but name it is still original and delightfully different in places as it plays with the genre and well worth watching because of that boldness. Don’t believe those ratings folks.

RATINGS – 6.1/10.0 (68,238 votes) – 43% critic’s approval – 50% critic’s approval

===Special Features===


Daily Telegraph –‘The movie makes you inch towards the exit, mumbling an apology’.

The Guardian –‘A mashup of Bourne and Clerks, fusing the worst of each into a galumphing stoner action comedy’.

New Yorker –‘Nourizadeh, working with a script by Max Landis, plays Mike's bloody violence like visual guitar riffs, and approaches the martial-arts set pieces with heavily underlined wit’.

The Times –‘Individual scenes work well, but they amount to a disjointed whole, thanks to Nima Nourizadeh's direction’.

The Star –‘American Ultra's stoner rambles are every bit as precise as they were with Aaron Sorkin's zingers in The Social Network, and it's a total pleasure to not be subjected to another drooling stoner cliché’.

The Monitor –‘Kristen Stewart can play tough without having to kick ass in a cat suit, but her one great fight scene was too late in the film and too spare to match her potential’.

The Melbourne Age –‘American Ultra, built upon ridiculous premise and casting, is not only the funniest but unexpectedly one of the best action movies of the summer’.


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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 19/11/2017
    vh :o)
  • 2mennycds published 19/11/2017
    Nicely reviewed. LOL at your pic!
  • jb0077 published 16/11/2017
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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