dvd / blu-ray Review

American Ultra (DVD): Review


Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg), a not-too-bright stoner, living with his girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) leads a seemingly simple life. He works at a convenience store. The couple have what appears to be a good relationship, other than Mike’s fear of leaving town in any sort of way.

However, it is not long before Mike has an encounter with a government agent, and we learn that he is in-fact a member of a secret CIA program, called American Ultra. Mike, we come to learn, is a highly trained operative. What is funny though, is that he has no recollection of this, as this memory has been suppressed until he is activated. Of course, it’s not long until he is indeed activated, and our story begins.

Jesse Eisenberg is a very unlikely action star, and yet, there is a thrill, or a joy, watching him bungle his way through the fights and action sequences, as Mike. There is a lovable, humorous aspect to the shock Mike experiences after each display of his seemingly super-human skill set.

As the girlfriend, planted to watch over Mike, Kristen Stweart gives one of her more emotional performances yet. Unlike some roles that leave her seeming somewhat devoid of feeling, you actually start to feel sorry for Phoebe. You’d like to help her, and most certainly cheer her on as she helps poor Mike find his way.

American Ultra is not just another spy thriller, it’s also not just another action movie. The film looks at relationships, and who we really are in this world. If we were to change our entire self, would our personality still show through, and our true nature be revealed?

There is enough action, intrigue, a few plot twists, and of course, humanity, to satisfy most any audience. American Ultra is a slightly different take on the genre mix, and an enjoyable ride to boot. Enjoy it with like-minded friends, or when you need an escape.

Disc And Bonus Features

American Ultra is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.


Video is encoded at a high bitrate, utilising available space on the disc. There are no visible artefacts on screen. Users with the necessary hardware and/or software can scale this image up to larger or higher resolution screens, if desired.


The soundtrack is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It is also encoded at a high variable bitrate, with no addable issues. The surround channels are given a fair amount of use, which certainly adds to the on-screen action, and further draws the viewer into the story.


Navigation is a simple, static approach, yet functional.


There are unfortunately no bonus features, other than a few previews at the beginning of the disc, of upcoming releases.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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