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American Ultra (Blu-ray Review)

20 Nov, 2015 By: John Latchem

Street 11/24/15
Box Office $14.44 million
$21.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content.
Stars Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman, Tony Hale.

Bourne meets bong in this energetic action-movie pastiche.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as a stoner named Mike who just wants to enjoy a life of blissful ignorance with his girlfriend, Phoebe (played by Kristen Stewart, reuniting the pair from 2009’s Adventureland).

Mike turns out to be a deadly sleeper agent created by the CIA as part of an experimental program. When the CIA decides to eliminate him to tie up loose ends, Mike’s programming kicks into gear to take out the assassins hunting him. The gag, set up deliberately to ape the “Bourne” movies, is that Mike is never quite sure what’s going on, a sharp contrast to the CIA bosses who envision themselves maneuvering people like chess pieces. Certainly, Eisenberg is the last person one would expect to find at the center of a James Bond-style plot. (Or is that James Bong?)

The thin story provides a good excuse for some creative action sequences as Mike makes use of whatever’s around to defend himself (there’s a clever featurette that runs through the everyday objects Mike uses throughout the film to kill or maim people).

The Blu-ray also includes a 40-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that’s a notch above typical EPK fare since it allows the filmmakers to actually discuss some of the ideas behind the movie in a meaningful way, rather than allowing everyone to just heap praise on each other (though there’s a fair bit of that as well).

There’s also a gag reel and a solo commentary with director Nima Nourizadeh that highlights many subtle details and covers the more technical aspects of making the film.

About the Author: John Latchem

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