HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
   
 
Newest Articles
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
   
 
  American Ultra The Sleeper Wakes
Year: 2015
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Tony Hale, Stuart Greer, Michael Papajohn, Monique Ganderton, Nash Edgerton, Paul Andrew O’Connor, Freddie Poole, Ilram Choi
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) sits in an interview room, bloody and bruised, handcuffed to the table and waiting to be seen. When a C.I.A. operative enters the room, he stops tapping his foot and observes the photographs set out before him and finally speaks, supposing the agent – and those watching behind the two-way mirror – would like to know the story behind how he got here. He rewinds his recent memories in his mind until he can explain how he was your basic stoner in a dead end town, with a low income, low energy job at the local store and no ambition whatsoever. Well, he had one ambition, and that was connected to his girlfriend, the equally unmotivated Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart)…

Yes, if Mike wants anything in his life it’s to be married to Phoebe, he has bought the ring and is just awaiting the right moment to pop the question in this comedy thriller that unlike writer Max Landis’ previous screenplay for Chronicle, proved tough to find an audience in its original release. Maybe it was down to everyone who had seen it comparing it to The Bourne Identity (or indeed The Long Kiss Goodnight), for which it was only going to fall short, or maybe they found the combination of Eisenberg and Stewart unappealing in spite of their Adventureland collaboration doing rather well a few years before, or more likely it was the thought of the duo combining forces to play action heroes that they balked at. Whichever, only their diehard fans had much good to say about it.

Eisenberg had grown his hair for his role, apparently believing that would make him more like a stoner in looks, but he didn’t really pull that off and didn’t suit it, causing a distraction that the rest of his performance was not able to rise above. Combine that with a fighting style that was hugely helped by fast cutting rather than any particular skill, and you could observe that the part of an unlikely killing machine was assuredly emphasising the unlikely aspect, possibly at the expense of the movie’s credibility. Stewart was better, but hampered by the twist in the middle of the story that anyone with any savvy would see coming a mile away, another distraction that forced you to ponder just how convincing she was in her screen persona as well as her co-star.

This left an odd impression, in that you had to accept that the central pair were not supposed to be convincing as expert counterintelligence agents or whatever they may or may not have been, yet you could only agree that damn right they were unconvincing. At this point Landis would have been expected to ramp up the comedy, as this was sold as a laugh a minute thriller, but as it played it was anything but, in effect with its many low key character scenes far more serious and sincere about the situation than it needed to be which had you musing that maybe you had been sold a pig in a poke, this was actually a straight ahead suspense and action flick coasting on the bizarre casting as a gimmick, but stick Steven Seagal in this plot and with a few tweaks this could have happily gone straight to video for the Friday night beer and pizza crowd.

If it wasn’t really a comedy, then what was it? As the title suggested, it embraced the counterculture paranoia about the security services, which at least was something to appeal to the stoners as Landis tapped into their latent (or overt) concern that they were being watched by sinister government forces, though if they were it was to keep a check on their drug intake rather than their threat to law and order. The MK Ultra programme was a mind control project undertaken by the C.I.A. from the nineteen-fifties onwards, using all sorts of dodgy procedures (including use of consciousness-altering drugs) to try and create a new kind of agent. Needless to say, it created a new kind of mental casualty instead, but here we were meant to believe Mike was a genuine success, or at least he would be if he could be ordered about once he had remembered his shady past and understood why he had mad fight skillz. It’s not a bad idea, but it was mixing two ideas that had been done to death and not coming up with a decent enough reason to proceed; by no means terrible, it was diverting enough, just far less exceptional than you imagined was the intention. Music by Marcelo Zarvos.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3153 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: