One of the questions I’m never asked is which film I’ve been most disappointed by over the past few months. And yet, the end of summer feels like the perfect moment to talk about film’s that have disappointed. Sure, I wanted “Avengers: Age of Ultron” to be better than it was, and while I thought “Hitman” was fine, it certainly could have been more. But no, they didn’t disappoint me, not in the same way “American Ultra” did.
With two often enjoyable actors in the lead roles, with a good supporting cast, with a fun idea behind it, “American Ultra” could have been something really and truly enjoyable. It could have been the start of something fun.
It just isn’t that. It is one of those movies where it feels as though they knew they had a great starting concept and then just stopped, as though the concept alone would be enough to fill the run time.
I feel like I’ve seen a lot of those lately, movies where someone came up with a great “what if” setup and declared the job done. Movies, as should be obvious, don’t end after the opening 20 minutes, at least not full length ones, there’s something on the order of 70 to 100 more minutes to fill.
Why is there this let down? Why is there this problem? I don’t believe that people come up with a great idea and then say to themselves, “Aww heck, from here I’ll just crib off of stuff that’s been done before.” No, there’s something else going on, and very probably something different for every writer and every film, but with the same end result — a movie that starts off fresh and fun and all too quickly runs out of steam.
So, head over to IGN, read my full and formal review of “American Ultra,” and just know that in some alternate universe somewhere the movie is utterly brilliant, taking its great concept in interesting directions and offering something we really haven’t seen before. In that universe, the movie uses the actors to their fullest and deftly balances humor with action. It that universe it is my biggest joy of the summer instead of my biggest disappointment.
photo credit: Lionsgate