Good news and bad news, folks, and I'll start with the good: "American Ultra," starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, is awesome. It's action-packed, hilarious, sweet and scary, all in one package.
Oh, and there is no bad news. Yay!
"American Ultra" sees Eisenberg as Mike Howell, a small town kid who works at the small town grocery store, with big time dreams, suppressed by big time phobias. But Mike has no idea how scary his life can possibly get until the moment he finds out he's one of the deadliest assassins on the planet. Standard existential stuff, really.
If the setup alone doesn't convince you that "American Ultra" is worth checking out, here are a few extra reasons to push you over the fence:
Jesse & Kristen Forever
Six years after "Adventureland," Eisenberg and Stewart are together, and they're better here than ever before. The Mike/Phoebe relationship lands not quite fully realized, but certainly full, and one you're rooting for from the very first minute they're on screen together. It's awesome stuff from both actors, and hopefully not the last time we see them together.
Walton Goggins as the Terminator
He's not actually THE Terminator, but he's a terminator all the same, running around the small town of "American Ultra," killing and cackling all the way. After all, he's called The Laugher for a reason, and he's one of the weirdest villains of the summer movie season.
Connie Britton as Sarah Connor
Picture Tami Taylor from "Friday Night Lights." Now picture her finding out that Gracie Belle Taylor is going to grow up to become the future leader of mankind in the war against the machines, and she has to start protecting her right now. That's not quite the character Britton plays in "American Ultra," but it was the picture plastered in my brain throughout every single one of her scenes, especially the one where she uses a stuffed animal as a shotgun silencer. Someone, give Connie an action franchise, please. C'mon, y'all!
The Full Cast
Eisenberg, Stewart, Goggins and Britton are all terrific, but they're just some of the talented faces along for the "American Ultra" ride. Really, almost no character goes without a recognizable actor filling out their shoes. Keeping track of the cameos is a big part of the fun.
Everything Is Awesome, And Also A Weapon
Seriously, everything. Whether it's a hot cup of soup, a cast iron pan, or the aforementioned stuffed animal, everything becomes a weapon in the hands of Mike Howell.
The Adventures of Apollo Ape
AKA Mike's comic book that he thinks about all the time but does nothing with. If we ever see "American Ultra 2," we need to see a full-fledged "Apollo Ape" animated sequence. Honestly, we might need to see that anyway.
The Future Potential
Without spoiling the ending, "American Ultra" puts forth a bigger universe that could provide the basis for an amazing sequel. It does not need to happen — what we get here in the little-more-than 90-minute thrill ride is plenty — but it would be fantastic, I am rooting for it, and I am putting that positivity out into the universe. Let's see if the seeds planted in "American Ultra" grow up to become a big, badass tree.