A weird hybrid of stoner comedy and ’90s action movie, this manages to avoid the charm of either, coming off as a somewhat nasty mess that lacks the thrills or jokes required to make this kind of thing work.
Small town stoner and convenience store clerk Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) can’t leave town without having a mental breakdown, which is a problem because he’s supposed to take his girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) to Hawaii on holiday. But it’s also a problem because in trying to leave town he’s pissed off a CIA department boss (Topher Grace), who decides he’s a loose end that needs to be tied off.
But isn’t he just a stoner? Now he is – but not so long ago he’d been turned into a lethal killing machine by another CIA operative (Connie Britton), who shut down the program he was part of because it was turning agents into wrecks. As the only one to survive mentally intact, she feels protective of him, so – knowing the CIA is about to have him killed – she arrived first, activates his killbot programming, and carnage ensues as the CIA throws more and more resources at a stoner who can’t believe he’s killing all these guys.
What starts out as a solidly effective look at a guy’s dead-end life then opens out into a potentially fun thriller fizzles out once it becomes clear that this has no higher goals than a blandly mechanical action film of the kind people stopped watching 20 years ago. The fights aren’t over-the-top enough to give it any cartoon thrills, most of the cast are stuck in nothing roles (Stewart comes out best despite literally playing the girlfriend role) and the whole thing isn’t funny enough to cover up its flaws. This Ultra is definitely underpowered.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris