Jesse Eisenberg Kills Braincells & Baddies in ‘American Ultra’

Kudos to Jessie Eisenberg for breaking the bonds of his awkward young twenties typecasting. Recently cast as Lex Luthor in the upcoming Batman v. Superman film and more recently as an elite CIA agent in American Ultra, it looks like things are finally going to change!  If only that were true…  It seems Lex Luthor and the elite CIA agent have something in common: (1) long hair, and (2) they look and act like Jesse Eisenberg.  Well, perhaps that’s not true in Batman V. Superman, but he sure looks like he always does. The question we should ask ourselves in American Ultra is, does his typcasting work? The answer, yeah, it kind of does.

American Ultra, if you were unaware, is like Pineapple Express and the Bourne Identity had a talk long-haired, awkward baby.  Luckily, he’s a lovable one, no one likes an unloveable baby. I’m not the biggest Eisenberg fan, though I loved him in Zombieland and his indie film The Double, overall I find him pretty one note. Combine that with actress Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame and I didn’t have high hopes for this film. However, the hook of the film – a stoner who is freaked out by his own brutal awesomeness was clever enough to get me to check it out. I’m glad I did.

American Ultra is a dark, action comedy with surprising heart and unexpected poignant moments amidst a ridiculous and entertaining premise.

Stewart and Eisenberg were both very good in this film. I cared about their characters, I cared about their relationship and I was rooting for them through the entirety of the film. They found a perfect foil in Topher Grace, the pompus “success at all costs” CIA agent tracking Eisenberg down to kill him.  He is a tool, in the best sense of the word, and I loved to hate him. Even the supporting cast including Tony Hale (Arrested Development) and Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) had very nice character moments.

Sometimes, I don’t get critics. I guess, technically, I am one because I write reviews, maybe I’m just more forgiving because I don’t know any better. Critically, this movie failed. Much like Hitman: Agent 47, another assassin movie released recently, critics and audiences were divided. All I know is that I laughed, recoiled and was fully invested in all that was happening on the screen throughout the film. Was it perfect? No. But, it’s about a pothead who finds out he is an elite assassin, I don’t think perfect is the point. What you should be asking is, “Was it good?” To that I say yes, yes it was.

American Ultra was a fun movie with some surprising heart, frenetic energy and interesting characters. Not bad from a sophomore director. This film is filled with violence, language and drug use.  For that reason I would not suggest this movie to people offended or effected by that. You know yourself, use your best judgement.

Bryce Cooley
I've been doing some form of ministry since 2000. For 13 years I was involved in the youth ministry at Cordova Neighborhood Church as everything from youth intern to youth pastor. God has led me and my lovely wife Bethany to Church of the Foothills where I currently reside as the Digital Publishing Coordinator. I'm excited to see where God leads my wife and I.