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American Ultra

Like some crazy hybrid of "Natural Born Killers", "The Kingsmen" and "Half Baked", AMERICAN ULTRA blazes an entertaining trail to something unique, fast and violent.

The opening scenes introduce us to the constantly high, depressed and panic attack prone Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) a night clerk at a tiny grocery store in the middle of a small, quiet town.

He lives with his beautiful stoner girlfriend Phoebe (Kristen Stewart), trying to avoid constant misdemeanor arrests and going nowhere fast.

Just as you begin to feel sorry for Mike and think this is going to be a rather depressing self discovery story, the film pops to the CIA, where high level agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) realizes her ignorant new boss Adrian (a funny powder keg of a performance by Topher Grace) is about to expose her undercover agents in the field.

The agents don't know they are highly trained special operatives, with all memories of their training buried deep in their brains.

Victoria quickly gets herself to that quiet market and tries to activate Mike, who is one of her deadly agents!

It doesn't take and Mike thinks she's just repeating gibberish, but shortly thereafter, two CIA killers arrive to take him out and he dispatches them in seconds with a cup of noodles and a spoon.

From that flash, the film is off and running, filled with great action scenes, plenty of laughs, some solid drama and a pace that feels even faster than its 96 minutes.

The supporting cast is excellent, featuring Walter Goggins (Hateful Eight, Django Unchained) as a crazy killer called Laugher, Tony Hale (Veep) as Victoria's operative assistant, John Lequizamo as Mike's hilariously offensive & stereotypical drug dealer and Bill Pullman as a high level operative.

Writer Max Landis (son of the legendary John Landis who brought us "Animal House", "The Blues Brothers" and "An American Werewolf in London" to name just a few) shows some real talent. Between this and his last film "Victor Frankenstein", it's two surprises in a row for me; two films I went into expecting nothing and had a great time watching.

Stewart was so filled with a put-upon angst persona the entire time she starred in the "Twilight" series that I refused to see anything with her in it, but she is really growing on me as an actress and she's good here, just as she was in "Adventureland" with Eisenberg.

Like most of America, I ignored AMERICAN ULTRA when it hit theatres. So glad I caught up with it now thanks to my buddy Frank's suggestion.

ULTRA is bloody well baked and gets an A.

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