John Leguizamo

http://www.impawards.com/2015/american_ultra_ver6.html

American Ultra

American Ultra reunites Jesse Eisenberg with his Adventureland Co-Star Kristen Stewart, in a stoner comedy-action-thriller-spy film. The story follows a stoner (Eisenberg) who is in fact a government agent who doesn’t know that he is. When he is marked as a liability to the government’s program, he is targeted for extermination. When his original trainer, played by actress Connie Britton, activates him, he becomes a highly trained killing machine, and the government deploys any means necessary to eliminate him, while all he really wants is to do is propose to his loving Girlfriend (Stewart). The film, directed by Nima Nourizadeh, has a few laughs throughout, and decent performances, but suffers from a lack of known identity. It seems that the Nourizadeh doesn’t know what tone or genre he wanted this film to be. As well, the writer, Max Landis, didn’t know where to really go with the finish. With shaky cam action and a lack of character development, American Ultra will fall a little short this weekend.

Oddly enough, the stand out in this film is Kristen Stewart. An actress that is ridiculed for not only not having any facial expression, but literally no personality in her films, shows tremendous range in this outing. I really enjoyed her character arch, and where they went with her. She has emotional responses to each situation in each scene, and she pretty much carry’s the film. Another stand out is Topher Grace. While the character is overly cartoony, and doesn’t necessarily fit in the film, he is kind of fun to watch and be around.  John Leguizamo is always a joy to see on camera, his minor cameo is a lot of fun

The rest of the cast is functional. Nothing impressive or stand outish, but functional. I don’t think anyone else could’ve done better with the roles, for each of them feel like they were written for different films, and just thrown in here, so the cast is a moot point.

When the jokes and situational comedy hit, they are funny. There were numerous times that I found myself laughing at Eisenberg playing this stoner who finds himself in an awkward situation and has no idea how he knows how to handle himself. While what seems as just muscle memory, he does some pretty brutal kills. It is violent and fun to see. It is almost a cross between Pineapple Express and Kick-Ass.

The problem mostly lies in the filming and story of American Ultra. The action sequences are shot with amazingly annoying shaky cam technique. Which directors who don’t know how to shoot action correctly try to pass off weak action scenes in an obnoxious style. Choppy editing makes some of the action hard to follow, and what could be really fun action sequences are ruined by lazy film making.

The story is all over the place, it goes from stoner comedy, to action comedy, to dramatic thriller, back to stoner comedy, to violent action, and then to spy thriller. It is just way to over the top at times and then suddenly grounded. While there are funny moments, they are split between a boring story arch that revolves around Connie Britton’s character and another CIA Operative played by Tony Hale that was completely cartoony and took me out of the film every time he was on screen. Every character in the film feels like they were written for a different genre of film or a different movie all together

While Eisenberg does a good job at being the stoner, he is still just Jesse Eisenberg on weed. There is nothing special or new to this character, and the development of him is weak. And all though Topher Grace is fun when he is on screen, he is a complete cartoon, and doesn’t fit in the world around him. Bill Pullman’s overly serious character is a waste of his cameo and even in his small screen time, is over used, and almost unimportant.

All in all American Ultra is a passible film that has a few laughs but falls short when it comes to substance. While it was nice to see Kristen Stewart actually does some decent acting, that isn’t enough to actually make the film a good one. I’m giving it a Jeebus Score of 2.6 with a .2 bonus for Stewart’s performance and John Leguizamo, rounding out My Jeebus Score for American Ultra as 2.8 out of a possible 6. What about you Jackass Nation? Are you planning on catching American Ultra this weekend, or another film? Sound off in the comments, and as always, keep on nerding.

The Jeebus Score explained

The Jeebus score is out of a possible 6 points. Films are giving a max of 1 point each for Acting, Entertainment, and Casting, and a max of .5 for Dialog, Cinematography, and Direction. There is also a possible bonus up to .5. Any film between 2.5 and 4 is considered a good film. 4-5 is a great film. Anything over 5 is an incredibly amazing film. To get a perfect score of 6 a film will pretty much have to be The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather.

Chef

So this one isn’t a new release, but I just got around to watching it so I wanted to put up a review for it. Chef. Written, directed, produced, and starring Jon Favreau. Alongside Favreau Chef stars John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr. And I just got to say, Leave it to Favreau to assemble such an ensemble cast, as well as write himself a character that has an ex wife played by Sofia Vergara and a love interest played by Scar Jo. Nice one Jon.

So Chef follows the story of Los Angeles Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) who after a twitter war between a himself and a major food critic (Platt) goes viral and culminates in a video outburst by Casper, quits his job and ends up on a trip with ex-wife and son to Miami. While in Miami he is pushed to get a food truck that he fixes up and begins a journey back to LA making stops along the way bonding with his son and getting back to the basics of what made him the chef he was.

The story is pretty cool and plays out well. It is interesting and fun to follow. And in a way a metaphor for Favreau himself. He said about writing this film he wanted to get back to basics after the major motion pictures he had been putting out. The direction is greatly on par, and the plays out well. It is really just a fun film to watch. A heartwarming story about a father and son, mixed together with a road trip and a cooking fun that’ll make you hungry for more!

The story is very social media heavy too. And it helps push the film, and makes it realistic. We are in an age where everything is social media driven, where every company has a twitter, an instragram, a Facebook, all of that. Something I try to take advantage of and this film gives me hope, so shameless plug in the middle of a review, retweet, and send out my reviews. Go down to the bottom of this and comment a little. It helped out Carl Casper, maybe it’ll help me.

The cast is a lot of fun and well put together. While most like Dustin Hoffman and RDJ are small roles, they are all great characters. RDJ obviously plays himself. And Hoffman is on his game for the few scenes he has. ScarJo is always fun on camera, and is just stunningly beautiful. And I’ll tell you this, I love John Leguizamo. Every film he’s in, I always love to see him pop up. Like I’ve always said, I loved Super Mario Bros, and he was Luigi! Favreau.

There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about it, not that it is the best movie of the year, or an Oscar worthy film or performances, but there are just aren’t really many negatives. I think if I really sat and thought about it I might be able to come up with some, but they’d probably be nitpicky, and I don’t want to just pull out something you didn’t like just for the sake of telling you something bad about it. If you really want me to pull something out, I’d say maybe there is a disappearance of ScarJo halfway thru the film, and there isn’t any real closure or development with the character. Other than Leguizamo’s character, Casper, and Casper’s son played by Emjay Anthony, no other character really gets any kind of development or story arch. But, that’s it. Sorry. Best I got for you.

So while I didn’t have any negatives, we end up with a very fun film, I gave it a Jeebus score of 4.5, would have been a Good time at the theater! So get on On Demand, or go out and buy it on DVD, Chef, a great film.

John Wick, he’s thinking he’s back.

Let’s start with this, I am a Keanu Reeves fan. Very few of his films have I not liked. I understand the guy gets a lot of flak, and he can be very cheesy, but put in the right role and he is phenomenal. Replacements, Hardball, Bill & Ted, the 1st Matrix, Speed, Devil’s Advocate, freaking Point break! Good films, all in which Keanu is great in! Now that’s not to say he hasn’t turned in some stinkers. I understand. But what actor hasn’t? Keanu is talented. And John Wick, this one, this is the return to stardom.

John Wick, the newest endeavor starring Keanu Reeves. Directed by two stunt men, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, and stars among Reeves, Michael Nvqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and William Dafoe. I can honestly tell you I knew nothing about this film until about a month ago. I was watching some trailers for upcoming films and random a new one popped up Called John Wick. Starring Keanu. Now I though what most thought after 47 Ronin, aw man, this is not going to be pretty. But then, after watching I was amazed. I thought to myself, this movie looks freaking awesome! Now if you haven’t watched the trailers, there are going to be spoilers. But as long as you have seen the trailers, you’ll be fine……. Ok that said, they killed his dog! Regardless of the fact that in Hollywood, you never kill the dog, this was a no-no! You knew right away him going to mess some people up! Question is, would the film live up to what should happen, due to the killing of a dog! Your answer, DAMN STRAIGHT IT DOES!

John Wick follows the story of an ex hit man (Reeves) as he is pulled back into the life after a mobster’s son (Allen) steals his car and kills his dog. Same basic story right? We’ve seen it a million times, hit man is forced back for one more job. Not so Generic this time. It ran the risk of coming back after the dog, something else happens that makes it more important, like always. Nope. You killed my dog, I’m going to f^(# you up! And that’s it, that’s your story, everyone in his way, he’s going to kill. The story is basic to a point, but it is the execution that makes it so incredible. It is such a fun film! It is filled with humor, and not like joke, joke, joke, it’s just this is a fun situation. I can’t help but laugh at the predicament these villains are in. Yes the villains are in trouble. It’s so generic when a films antagonist is full of themselves and not worried about the protagonist. This one, flips the script. The Bad guy knows he’s screwed because his son killed the dog of the most dangerous killer in history! It is epic!

The cast is perfect. Everyone knows there role and plays to it. This is the type of film that is made for Keanu! His acting is cheesy to a point, but it needed to be. There are a few emotional scenes that you sit there and say to yourself, yes, this is the guy that brought us the Matrix. This is the guy who can truly deliver us a great performance. The directors are spot on. As stunt men, they make the action that they have coined as Gun-Fu, very distinct and prevalent. Watching the film I wanted to call it a through back to 80’s action, done with 90’s style, updated for today’s audience. It is incredible!

John Wick has such potential for a franchise as well. And not so much for just continuing stories of John Wick himself, but for the world they have created! The film creates this near video game like under world of assassins, that have a hotel that they all can live at where the rules are strict, giving them a place a safe haven from the dangers of their world. There is soooo much potential in this idea. Whether John Wick is involved or not, a spin off idea is great!

Negatives, I honestly don’t have any. I loved every minute of this film. Not that it is an academy award worthy film, but it was the most fun I have had in the theater since Guardians of the Galaxy. It is just a damn fun time! I gave it a 5.8 overall, with a .4 bonus for such a fun time, giving it a final Jeebus score of 6.2, JEEBUS-TACULAR! I implore you to go see this film! Let’s not have another Edge of Tomorrow debacle! Because honestly, people keep asking if Keanu is back, and I’m thinking, Yea, he’s back. Take on Dr. Strange, Ted!