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American Ultra (Ayala Cinemas Exclusive)

forgforg Administrator PEx Moderator
EDGY THRILLER “AMERICAN ULTRA” EXCLUSIVE AT AYALA MALLS CINEMAS
via press release

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From the creator of teen superhero film “Chronicle” comes the intriguing thriller “American Ultra” starring Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”), Kristen Stewart (the “Twilight” series) and Topher Grace (“Spider-Man 3”).

In the film, a stoner and his girlfriend’s sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.

“American Ultra” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Oct. 28.

For the first five minutes of “American Ultra,” audiences may feel like they are watching a charming little indie film about two quirky characters, which is exactly what the filmmakers intended. Mike Howell (Eisenberg), the movie's main character, is a smarter-than-average but completely unmotivated slacker. He is stuck in a small town, working at the local convenience store and living a very ordinary life with his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart).

"If you take the story down to its most basic elements, it's about this guy who wants to propose to his girlfriend but his world gets turned upside down," says director Nima Nourizadeh. "Mike has only one goal: propose to Phoebe. Then, over the course of one night, everything turns upside down and there are all these hurdles he has to jump."

For the director, who earned accolades in Hollywood for his 2012 debut film, “Project X,” this script stood out in the action-comedy genre. "It ticks so many boxes with a unique blend of disparate elements that you don't normally see together," says Nourizadeh. "It has romance, it has action, it has a lot of comedy, so it's full of surprises and takes you places you won't expect. It starts off in the tiny, almost claustrophobic world that Mike and Phoebe have been living in and then it gets crazy."

When the action suddenly shifts from Liman, West Virginia, to CIA headquarters, something far more sinister than romance starts to take shape. A clandestine government program is about to rain terror down on a sleepy West Virginia town. The object of the attack is ... Mike Howell?

"That's when you realize that `American Ultra' is an action film with plenty of *** kicking that also pokes fun at the genre," says Max Landis, the film's writer. "It is high-level, in-camera action, but no matter how hard that element pushes, the indie dramedy about a stoner couple pushes back just as hard. Of course, that doesn't mean we didn't create some killer fight scenes."

One of the big selling points for Nourizadeh was the script's ambitious amalgam of classic genres. "It combines so many different things in an interesting and organic way," he notes. "The conventions will be familiar to filmgoers, but they are mashed up a little bit, which changes everything. I like taking things that people think they know and presenting them in a new light."

The inspiration for the action/comedy is a real-life CIA attempt to create super warriors that lasted three decades. The formerly covert program, known as MK Ultra, was launched in the 1950s in an effort to turn ordinary citizens into superhero-level operatives. Using psychotropic drugs to enhance psychological conditioning, better known as torture, government scientists treated the human brain like a computer and attempted to radically reprogram their subjects to be the most effective and dangerous assets possible.
The attempt to turn out a generation of Jason Bourne-like super assassins failed miserably. "You can wipe a hard drive, but when you wipe a human brain, it tends to break," says Landis. "I became a little obsessed with what I learned. I kept thinking, what if a regular guy got involved? How would he react? That spawned `American Ultra.'"

Comments

  • QT IIQT II PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Oooh...cool!!!
  • forgforg Administrator PEx Moderator
    JESSE EISENBERG, THE STONE ASSASSIN IN “AMERICAN ULTRA”
    via press release

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    Oscar-nominated young actor Jesse Eisenberg, whose previous roles have included “Now You See Me,” “The Social Network,” and “Zombieland,” was the filmmakers' first choice to play the slacker-turned-superspy in the intriguing thriller “American Ultra.”

    Watch the official trailer of “American Ultra”
    [video]

    In the film, a stoner and his girlfriend’s sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.

    As action heroes go, Mike Howell (Eisenberg) is an unlikely contender. He is completely dependent on his girlfriend, unable to cook a simple meal without starting a fire. He has been hired and fired from the same rundown convenience store more times than he can remember, and he gets arrested for possession so often that the police are on a first-name basis with him.

    "We knew it had to be Jesse," says producer David Alpert. "You just buy him as an innocent, small-town stoner. The action is completely unexpected coming from him, but not unbelievable. Jesse gives the character a grounded emotional intelligence even as the whole weight of a secret CIA program lands in Liman to try to kill him."

    Mike is a laid-back young man who becomes a little befuddled and confused when too many things happen at once. He's happy to stay home, smoke weed in bed and make out with his girlfriend. Taking out bad guys sent to terminate him is not on his radar screen. The role places Eisenberg, an actor who often plays the smartest guy in the room, squarely outside his comfort zone.

    "Jesse is such a sharply intelligent actor, but he was able to sort of dumb himself down for this role in ways that make him almost unrecognizable," says director Nima Nourizadeh. "He was just great at all of the things I needed for this movie. Jesse took on such a gentle, unassuming quality in his hands, he can do comedy and he can do drama. He is so touching in the most emotional scenes of the film and then he throws himself into some real kick-*** action."

    Eisenberg was quick to sign on after reading the script. "I'd never read anything like it," he says. "The characters felt totally real, the situations are surprising and the way we deal with them seems very truthful. Mike and Phoebe are totally accessible, so people can live vicariously through them. Mike is also an artist who has created this comic book about a monkey he calls Apollo Ape. When he becomes the target of an evil government plot, what happens to him is like an Apollo Ape story-it's a stoner fantasy come to life."

    Max Landis' script keeps the humor completely genuine, says the actor. "Putting this very passive guy in the middle of an intense and violent world creates the potential for a lot of comedy. Mike is thrust into situations where he has to defend his and his girlfriend's lives.

    As the confrontations become increasingly more complicated and frightening, he becomes more deadly, but he has no idea how or when he learned to do these things."

    “American Ultra” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Oct. 28.
  • MrSinisterMrSinister PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    watched this a few weeks back and it was okay
    it's like Jason Bourne on drugs
    3.5/5
  • forgforg Administrator PEx Moderator
    KRISTEN STEWART, FEISTY SMALL-TOWN GIRL IN “AMERICAN ULTRA”
    via press release

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    Kristen Stewart reunites with her “Adventureland” costar Jesse Eisenberg in Lionsgate's hip thriller “American Ultra.”

    In the film, a stoner (Eisenberg) and his girlfriend’s (Stewart) sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.
    Stewart plays Phoebe Larson who appears to be as unmotivated as her slacker boyfriend but unlikely hero Mike. Like him, she seems in no hurry to go anywhere. But Phoebe is much more driven than she lets on. "She is way more together than he does," says director Nima Nourizadeh. "She's responsible, with more of a real job. Mike actually relies on her for a lot of the time. You soon understand that she pretty much takes care of everything for him."

    Stewart and Eisenberg had instant chemistry, Nourizadeh says. "They hadn't seen each other in a couple of years, but the connection was instantaneous. When we started shooting, they were completely comfortable together even in the most intimate moments. We needed that for the comedy to work. They're definitely two people I would love to work with again."

    After meeting with the pair together, the filmmakers were sure they would be convincing and appealing as a couple dedicated to getting baked together. "There's something about Jesse and Kristen that is so compelling and so right," says producer David Alpert. "The idea of re-teaming them was a dream come true. She's very alluring and charismatic on screen, and she brings amazing depth to the character and the relationship. It's not just a supporting girlfriend role: she's an equal."

    Like Eisenberg, the actress is taking a role that is not typical for her, notes screenwriter Max Landis. "She's not the sacrificial dove or the princess who must become a warrior," he says. "Kristen's played all sorts of crazy characters, but in this she plays someone closer to who she really is, a sort of laid-back tomboy."

    Stewart admits she jumped at the chance to work with Eisenberg again. "We should make a movie together every five years," she says. "It's just so comfortable to work with him. He's hilarious and intimidatingly intelligent. And this script is so original. Imagine that your stoner buddy just turned into an expert CIA assassin and the chaos that ensues. It's an ultra-violent, in-your-face action movie, as well as an emotionally grounded love story, as well as a full-on slapstick comedy. I wanted to explore that with Jesse."

    Watching Mike conquer the CIA's most vicious operatives is an unexpected delight, she promises. "These two kids turn into something you would never foresee. Watching us annihilate a town or take out deadly killers is just funny, especially with Mike's off-the-wall commentary as it goes down. I haven't had this much fun making a movie in years."

    For that, she gives full credit to Nourizadeh. "He is incredibly detail oriented," says Stewart. "He left no stone unturned. He's such a sensitive dude that he was truly concerned with everything, including the little sweet bits, like the matching tattoos on our feet."

    “American Ultra” will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting Oct. 28.
  • forgforg Administrator PEx Moderator
    “AMERICAN ULTRA” MASHES UP COMEDY WITH VIOLENCE, ROMANCE
    via press release


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    L.A. Weekly describes it as “A bloody valentine attached to a bomb. It's violent, brash, inventive and horrific, and perhaps the most romantic film of the year.”

    Boston Globe calls its stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, “Tender, forgiving, and sexy, they're the hottest couple on screen at the moment.”

    They're talking about Buena Vista International's new dark comedy “American Ultra,” the trippy story of Mike (Eisenberg), a convenience store clerk and his girlfriend, Phoebe (Stewart) whose sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.

    "The script is funny and scary and violent and sweet," producer Anthony Bregman says. "It makes you swing in so many directions emotionally, which makes for a great movie experience. [Screenwriter] Max Landis knows the action genre well, which allows him to make fun of it while living up to the conventions and expectations."

    A large part of the humor comes from the fact that the filmmakers never lose sight of the idea that reclaiming his hardcore combat skills doesn't change who Mike is. "Mike is a bit of a dreamer and he never loses that quality," says producer David Alpert. "It's just that now people are trying to kill him. We always tried to maintain a connection to what it would really be like if the stoner guy in your town got these abilities."

    Director Nima Nourizadeh, whose first film “Project X” has established him as an innovative new talent in Hollywood, impressed the producers with his ideas for maximizing both the action and the humor in the script. "Nima is a startling visionary in terms of how he sees a scene," says Landis. "He didn't change the script much, but the things he added made it even better. He structured the rhythms and beats in a way that is genuinely funny and fun to watch."

    Nourizadeh brought a sharp sense of humor, as well as an authentic sense of danger and visual excitement to the script, according to Bregman. "He is better than anyone I can think of at establishing a really calm, stable atmosphere on screen that eventually explodes into a state of complete choreographed chaos. It's really fun to watch that build and ignite."

    The writer and director first met in April 2013 to exchange ideas about future projects. Landis told Nourizadeh about “American Ultra,” a spec script no one outside of his team had read yet. "The script really exceeded my expectations," says the director. "Max is an intriguing storyteller. He feeds you information a little bit at a time until you are suddenly somewhere unexpected and completely crazy. His writing is always entertaining, but what separates this from other action comedies I'd read was that he nailed down the relationships between the main characters. It was the perfect second project for me."

    Producers Bregman and Alpert agreed. "The combination of Max and Nima was irresistible," Bregman says. "Max's first feature script, `Chronicle,' is a favorite of mine. It was made on a modest budget with really interesting visuals that made it seem much bigger than it was. Nima's `Project X' was, in my opinion, one of the best movies of the last few years. It's another small film with a really big reach. Both were fun and entertaining and innovative, and at the same time dealt with big issues in a subtle way. It's exactly the sort of movie I want to see."

    "Teaming Max and Nima up and then adding Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart to the mix feels like we're looking at the next generation of great Hollywood filmmakers," concludes Alpert.

    “American Ultra” is now showing exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide
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