Jesse Eisenberg and Kirsten Stewart showed they had great chemistry when they first collaborated on 2009 coming-of-age comedy Adventureland, so there were high hopes that the duo would be able to replicate that dynamic in an entirely different genre when they re-teamed six years later for action comedy American Ultra, which just hit Netflix.
Eisenberg plays a layabout slacker, who spends the majority of his free time getting high and writing a comic book about a monkey that moonlights as a superhero. Suddenly, he finds himself targeted for assassination by the CIA, despite the fact he’s completely unaware he’d led a double life as a highly-trained operative with a deadly set of skills.
Naturally, he manages to turn the table against his assailants by tapping back into his fearsome combat abilities, all while trying to keep his girlfriend alive after she gets drawn into the equation, too. It’s a solid setup packed with some strong performances from the gaggle of comic talent on display including Eisenberg, Stewart, Topher Grace, John Leguizamo, Walton Goggins and more, but American Ultra doesn’t quite land the way it was surely intended to.
It’s not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely could have done a whole lot more with such a unique premise, instead of leaning into the easiest jokes and failing to explore the most interesting of its many plot threads, which ultimately leads the whole thing to become entirely predictable almost from the outset.
That being said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had, and the Jesse Eisenberg/Kristen Stewart pairing delivers big time, and as something of a cult favorite American Ultra realistically stands a decent chance of making its way into the Netflix Top 10 most-watched list over the coming days.