Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton
Release Date: Available on Blu-ray & DVD November 24, 2015
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 8.5/10
American Ultra is a dynamic thrill ride that mixes explosive action with edgy humor. Mike (Eisenberg) shares a small-town life with his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart). But Mike’s sleepy world goes wild after he discovers that he’s actually a CIA sleeper agent with lethal fighting skills—and the target of government hitmen. Mike, the ultimate slacker, transforms into an ultra-attacker as he and Phoebe fight to survive in this exhilarating adventure.
Mike Howell (Eisenberg) was enjoying a boring yet generally satisfying life of getting high and getting by with the love of his life Phoebe (Stewart), or at least that was until a few chosen words spoken by a mysterious customer at the convenience store where Mike works changed everything he thought he knew forever. Suddenly being relentlessly pursued by government officials intent on disposing of him, Mike soon finds that he possesses powerful fighting capabilities which he instinctively utilizes to take down his attackers. Before long he realizes that he is somehow involved in a big government operation which he has no memory of knowledge of and the only thing left to do is fight his way through long enough to decipher the truth.
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) from a script by Max Landis (Chronicle), Nourizadeh does a more than capable job at the helm of ‘American Ultra’ (which also marks his sophomore effort in the director’s chair) guiding this bloody, goofy and fun film with apparent ease. The movie also benefits a great deal from the impressive collection of talented individuals who comprise the cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton, Topher Grace, John Leguizamo, Tony Hale, Bill Pullman and Walton Goggins among others, all of whom at the very least deliver fitting and capable performances in each of their respective roles.
‘American Ultra’ is a fast paced and blood drenched good time filled with plenty of laughs and intentionally goofy moments fittingly sprinkled throughout. While some may not appreciate the intentionally silly tone of the film, others will undoubtedly find it a refreshing contribution to the film as it perfectly balances the at times quite graphic violence and leaves the film with an atmosphere of fun even as people are being killed in the most creative and surprisingly hilarious ways, Jesse Eisenberg seemingly right at home in the role and delivering a wonderful performance in the lead as a pothead discovering his superhuman abilities. Overall, while it’s certainly not going to acquire any Oscar nods, ‘American Ultra’ is filled with action and laughs, combining into one incredibly fun ride from start to end; I would highly recommend checking it out, it’s definitely well worth a rental at the very least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘American Ultra’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks outstanding, delivering a sharp, detailed and flawless presentation throughout, holding up impressively even during the darkly lit and fast moving sequences which are quite common in the film, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is an impressive high definition video presentation that should easily please.
The Blu-ray release features a DTS: X (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review covers the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack as I don’t currently possess the DTS: X sound capability. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds wonderful, providing a consistently clean, crisp and highly aggressive audio presentation, frequently utilizing all seven available channels in order to send plenty of bullets, debris and other explosive, action related auditory elements zooming past the viewer throughout, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a fantastic, enjoyable and highly capable DTS: X (DTS-HD MA 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that should not disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘American Ultra’ includes a few notable extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Nima Nourizadeh’. Also included is an in depth behind the scenes look at the making of the film in ‘Activating American Ultra’ (running approximately 40 minutes in length) which features behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew. Lastly we a treated to a fun little video called ‘Assassinating on a Budget’ (approximately 3 minutes) and a ‘Gag Reel’ (3 minutes).