I mean, really; for those of you who thought the Twilight movie series was for sophomores who were dating freshman, Kristen Stewart was like a franchise that had run away from home. Just like those of us waiting for Jennifer Lawrence to complete her contract with the Hunger Games and do some serious acting for a change, Stewart had gone into Sell-Out Haven, a gated community for teens who buy their parents swimming pools.
For us snobs who remember Stewart from the Panic Room and a gem of a cameo in Zathura, Stewart was the unrequited stunner next door. Here was this kid who could really act and she was playing mummy warrior with some foreheads from GQ’s junior academy. It was embarrassing.
But now, Stewart is back from the Twilight Zone. With a like-minded Jesse Eisenberg, who matches her performance step by step, Stewart has put together a snappy, smart, endearing performance in American Ultra in which she plays the girlfriend of a hometown stoner, who works at a late night cash and carry, but whose life is focused on one loser episode after another – run ins with the police and all that.
He has panic attacks, which feeds into his sense of chronic under-achievement. On the side, he works privately on graphic novel about a gorilla slash superhero. For dinner: A joint and some leftover pizza.
But all this turns out to be a ruse. The panic attacks are programed responses, because Eisenberg turns out to be a shut down CIA asset – a super-lethal fighting machine whose mission was canceled, so he was brainwashed to live out his days with his handler, Stewart, in middle town obscurity.
That’s fine until all hell breaks loose. It takes some self-serving idiot at the CIA to touch off the mayhem, which starts off as a simple shut-this-asset-down mission, but ends up as an all-out war: Eisenberg with a joint in one hand and a wedding ring in his pocket versus the agency that betrayed him.
Of course, this set up is old hat, but Stewart and Eisenberg and director Nima Nourizadeh create an explosive, funny, fatalistic masterpiece of comedy. Throughout the battle scenes, Eisenberg and Stewart keep up their domestic, puppy-love lifestyle. They were settled. And they were stoned. Who needs this shit?
This is the stoner culture having the last laugh and it’s ;also the best goof-ball spy film since, well, since Mellisa McCarthy’s Spy. But this one is about sweet, young love that will not quit, even when the going gets rough. And it gets very rough. Thought the opening weekend only brought in $5M in domestic box office sales, the film sported two top notch performances, a funny script and a music video director directing his second feature film and doing everything just right, or so we thought.