Kristen Stewart has made plenty of notable films throughout her career, most famously the Twilight Saga. She has also made a number of movies that could be considered underrated. One of those films is now available on Netflix.
American Ultra is what some would call a stoner-action film. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mike Howell who is the stoner in question and Kristen Stewart as his girlfriend Phoebe Larson. When we first see Mike and Phoebe, they are trying to board a plane to Hawaii, where Mike plans on proposing to her. But Mike is unable to get on the plane as he suffers a panic attack, something that overcomes him each and every time he tries to leave town.
Not far away, CIA Agent Victoria Lasseter (Connie Britton) gets word that the sole survivor of her Wiseman program is to be eliminated by rival Adrian Yates (Topher Grace) and his similar Toughguy agents. Lasseter’s sole survivor is the stoner, Mike. Seems Mike is a sleeper agent who has no idea who and what he truly is.
Lasseter feels it’s her duty to protect Mike, so she travels to his small town of Liman, Virginia to awaken the sleeping beast. Whether it’s from all the pot he’s smoke or something else, Lasseter is unable to wake him up. She leaves him in frustration.
When Mike finds his car being messed with by two Toughguy agents, they turn on him, attacking. But Mike’s sleeping abilities wake up in time and Mike kills them both using a spoon.
Slowly, Lasseter’s attempt to wake Mike is taking hold. He begins to remember training and military strategy. He also begins to realize that he has no memory of his life before he came to Liman and met Phoebe.
Yates continues his pursuit of Mike by sending more Toughguys to take care of Mike with lethal gas. They arrive at Mike’s home, who is there with Phoebe. The two are able to escape but during the action, Phoebe seems to have a little more knowledge about the gas than the normal person should. Turns out Phoebe is actually a CIA agent assigned to be Mike’s handler.
There are plenty of more surprises to follow, as well as more over-the-top violence. We won’t spoil any of that.
American Ultra is the second movie Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have appeared in together. Both starred in the 2009 comedy Adventureland. They developed a nice rapport throughout that film and based on its moderate success, were brought back together for American Ultra. But unlike Adventureland, audiences didn’t take to Stewart and Eisenberg in this film.
The movie was directed by Nima Nourizadeh from a script written by Max Landis and was a critical and box office failure. Landis’ script was given a $28 million budget but saw only a $30 million return, something that prompted screenwriter Max Landis to go off on.
In a series of tweets following the movie’s release and poor reception, Landis went on social media to call out his movie’s failure as confusing to himself. He notes that his film is neither a sequel nor a franchise, a reboot, or a biopic, but an original. He feels original movies no longer can make money.
“Am I wrong? Is trying to make original movies in a big way just not a valid career path anymore for anyone but Tarantino and Nolan? That’s the question: Am I wrong? Are original ideas over? I wanted to pose this to the public, because I feel, put lightly, confused. Now, I’m not so sure.” Landis posed this question, via Indiewire, to his followers on Twitter and they responded in kind.
The problem with the movie may not be in the writing or the direction or even its originality but, perhaps, the problem could be with the two leads. To many, they are both immediately unlikeable, as evidenced by those who commented on Landis’ take on the death of original movie ideas. Some of those responses can be read here.
The career of Kristen Stewart has been besieged with negative comments. While some of her movies, mainly the Twilight Saga, have been successful at the box office, for some reason, audiences just can’t get behind her. The many complaints focus on her style of acting or lack thereof. Many see her as a one-note actress with a limited range.
The main reason for the utter contempt, though, can be traced back to Kristen Stewart in her Twilight days and her relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson. Fans fell in love with the pair through the Twilight films as fantasy turned to reality and the two began dating.
To many, they were the perfect couple and fandom wanted to see their happily ever after played out in real-time. But then Kristen Stewart pulled the rug out from her fans. She was caught cheating on Pattinson with married director Rupert Sanders. Not only was he married with children, he had just directed Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman, AND his wife, Liberty Ross, also starred in that movie.
Kristen Stewart went from beloved to despised. The fans who loved her for Bella began to pick her apart focusing on any little fault they could find. Fans can be fickle that way.
It was a long road back for Kristen Stewart and she didn’t do herself any favors along the way. Her early aloofness was brought to the forefront, and it followed her, along with her infidelity, for years.
Kristen Stewart moved away from the big-budget films and turned to smaller indie fare like Clouds of Sils Maria, Still Alice, and JT LeRoy in efforts to rebuild her damaged reputation. Slowly but surely, it seems to be a strategy that is paying off.
Kristen Stewart did return to bigger budget movies with her role in the 2019 film Charlie’s Angels, following that up with the science fiction horror film Underwater. She was also recently seen in Happiest Season. Stewart looks to continue to get back in the good graces of her fickle fandom by playing Prince Diana in the upcoming film Spencer.
For now, though, American Ultra can be seen on Netflix and it truly isn’t that bad of a movie, unless you can’t stomach the two leads. Give it a try, you may be surprised.