American Ultra

Not even Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg can save this stoner superspy comedy-thriller

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in 'American Ultra.' Credit: Alan Markfield

The problem about reviewing this mindless mindblower is spoiling the surprise by giving shit away. So I will tread carefully. American Ultra opens nice and easy, with stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart, reteaming after 2009's Adventureland, dishing out a winning slacker romance. Then, boom, the movie is taken over by the demon seed of Michael-Bay-ish adrenaline pumping. And the blood. Oh, the blood.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Eisenberg plays Mike, a stoner living in East Bumfuck, West Virginia. Mike dims the dullness of his job at a convenience store by writing a graphic novel about a superhero monkey. He goes home every night to Phoebe (Stewart, terrific), who shows the dude unearned patience and sexual healing. She even forgives him for ruining their vacation trip to Hawaii by having one of his pukey panic attacks before they even get on the plane.

Having trouble suspending disbelief that this babe would put up with this loser? You’re not alone. It turns out that Mike and Phoebe have secrets. I’ll never tell. But director Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) and screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle)  jack up the action pretty damn quick. Mike fights two hitman in a parking lot, using a spoon and ramen noodles as weapons. "There's a chance I might be a robot," says Mike. Nah. The C.I.A. shows up in the divergent persons of Connie Britton and Topher Grace (in as nifty turn as a bureaucratic nutjob). And soon the movie's twisty charm gives way to gory splatter. Eisenberg and Stewart stay appealing to the last. The movie, not so much.