By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Extremely violent, bloody drug comedy believes in true love.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid the movie's violence and irreverence are ideas about getting back up and trying again and standing by your friends and loved ones, even if the odds seem impossible. In a smaller way, the movie also champions doing the right thing, even if it doesn't seem that way in the moment.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a powerful super spy. Female characters are also highly trained agents, but the general behavior here is irreverent and iffy and not worth emulating.
Violence & Scariness
Extremely strong, cartoonish action violence. Heavy blood and gore, including blood spurts and bloody faces and clothes. Female characters are beaten up and smacked around. Many guns are fired and many secondary characters killed. Fighting, stabbing, and beating with blunt objects. Teeth knocked out. Explosions. Heavy animated violence during closing credits.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Paintings of topless women in sexual positions. Main couple kisses passionately. Very brief images of suggested sex, focusing on faces. Some sex-related dialogue. Scene in front of a strip bar. Brief, graphic cartoon sex images during closing credits.
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"F--k" is used several times, as are "s--t," "bitch," the "N" word, "t-ts," and "piss." Middle finger gestures.
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Products & Purchases
Several brands are shown while the main character is working in a market: Fruit Loops, Tootsie Rolls, etc. Taco Bell is mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main characters regularly smoke pot. Regular cigarette smoking. A secondary character snorts cocaine. Mushrooms are mentioned.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Ultra is an action comedy with tons of violence, blood, and gore, as well as pot smoking. The violence is really over the top, with shooting, fighting, beating with blunt objects, stabbing, slicing, spurting blood, dead bodies, explosions, and more. Language is very strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and the "N" word. Characters smoke pot or cigarettes in several scenes, and one character snorts cocaine. Sex is implied between the two leads; kissing is shown, and brief flashbacks focusing on faces suggest sexual pleasure. There's also sex-related dialogue and paintings of topless women in sexual poses. The closing credit sequence, which is animated, have even stronger sexual and violent images that flash by quickly. The movie has been marketed as a "stoner comedy" and seems aimed at fans of Pineapple Express, Harold and Kumar, and other similar movies.
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Based on 6 parent reviews
Graphic Sex -Graphic Violence 21++++++
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What's the Story?
Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) lives in West Virginia and is mostly happy smoking pot and spending time with his girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart). They try to go to Hawaii for a romantic getaway, but an anxiety attack prevents them from leaving. And when Mike is attacked at his job at a local market, some kind of forgotten training kicks in, and he kills two men. The CIA takes notice, and Mike's former handler (Connie Britton) tries to save him, while a nasty, bullying agent (Topher Grace) sets up a large sting operation, including more than a dozen trained killers, to take him out. But all Mike wants to do is find the right moment to propose to Phoebe.
Is It Any Good?
The movie's excessive, reckless violence rolls right over most of the comedy, but the two leads are so charming together that they save the day. AMERICAN ULTRA focuses, first and foremost, on its action, with lightning-quick fight scenes and shoot outs, as well as their bloody aftermath; characters go through the story wearing blood and gore spattered into just about every crevice. (In fact, it may be destined to freak out its potential cult stoner audience!)
Unfortunately, while the screenplay by Max Landis appears to have been meant to be funny, director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) lets the comedy dissipate as the action grows larger (though a very funny John Leguizamo helps). Grace further sours things with his sadistic performance as an evil, bullying CIA man. But, in the end, Eisenberg is so thoroughly charming, and his chemistry with Stewart (carried over from Adventureland) is so sweet, that we can't help rooting for them to succeed.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the drug use and smoking in American Ultra. Is it glamorized? Does it look fun or appealing? What are the consequences? Do you think movies like this one encourage drug use, or do they reflect drug use that already exists?
How prevalent is violence in the movie? Is it over the top? How did you react to it? How was the violence used to achieve this reaction?
How is sex depicted between the main couple, and how is it represented elsewhere? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Is the Topher Grace character a bully? How is he dealt with? How does it feel? What message does it send? Is there a better way of handling characters like that?
- In theaters: August 21, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2015
- Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton
- Director: Nima Nourizadeh
- Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African directors
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content
- Last updated: April 6, 2023
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