Tag Archives: Max Landis

Cinema Dispatch: American Ultra

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American Ultra and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh

Did someone finally remake Natural Born Killers?  No?  That sacred cow hasn’t been milked yet?  Eh… give it time.  Until then, we’ve got the next big film from Max Landis.  No, he didn’t direct it.  He wrote the movie and it’s his big follow up after Chronical, and we all know how well things turned out for the OTHER guy who made that movie!  All joking aside, Chronical was one of the best examples of not only the found footage genre but the super hero genre as well.  The story was complex and heartfelt while still being an exciting and unique take on portraying super powers in film.  Can Max Landis pull off another hit with this film about a stoner sleeper agent, or will he be doomed to the same fate as Josh Trank whose sophomore slump is easily the biggest disaster of the year?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) who’s some dipshit loser in West Virginia with a lousy job, a drug problem, and a condition where he has panic attacks whenever he tries to leave town.  The only good thing the sad sack has going for him is his sad sack girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart)  who’s only slightly more functional than he is in that she doesn’t nearly burn the house down due to her own absent mindedness.  Mike is certainly trying to do better by her, but this is a guy with no ambition and little imagination.  Aside from his doodles about an astronaut ape, he barely gives off any signs of conscious thought other than guilt for being lucky enough to find Phoebe and the fact that she loves him just as much as he loves her.  Of course, things aren’t as simple as they seem.  Being a man child movie, our hero has to have some super ability that they didn’t really earn, and in this case it turns out that he’s actually a decommissioned CIA sleeper agent with skills to rival James Bond… despite being MAYBE twenty five (at least as far as the movie is trying to sell the premise as).  Of course, being an unstoppable badass who ain’t doing shit to no one, some pencil pushing mother fucker (Adrian Yates played by Topher Grace) decides that Mike needs to be eliminated and sends out a bunch of goons to 86 the bastard.  The original leader of the program that turned Jesse Eisenberg into teenage Terminator (Victoria Lassetter played by Connie Britton) gets wind of this and is doing what she can to keep him alive while he starts to remember the skills he had in the past.  Can he survive these attempts on his life and get his girlfriend through this ordeal safely, or will the weight of these revelations be too much for him to handle?

“Can we not do this today?  It’s been kind of weird around her lately…”

“Can we not do this today?  It’s been kind of weird around her lately…”

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