American Ultra is the story of an underachieving, weed-smoking white guy who is a former CIA operative whose memories of his life as an agent have been wiped. When the CIA decides it’s time for him to be purged, his killer instincts kick in and he realizes he is more than he seems.
As I said in previous posts, I use MoviePass now so I can see a different movie every day for only $30 a month. I told my mom it’s like “use or lose” leave for the cinema. Since American Ultra was heavily advertised as a “stoner film” I had low expectations of seeing any black people.
Since I intentionally don’t do a whole lot of investigating before I choose the film I want to see, I was pleasantly surprised to see John Leguizamo. He is probably one of my favorite Latino actors and in my top five comedic actors/stand-up comedians of all time. I am talking all the way back to House of Buggin’ in 1995 on Fox!
But Leguizamo’s character troubled me. He said “nigga” an awful lot to the main character. I *think* I understood what the writers were trying to do. I mean, one would not expect a small town West Virginia hustler to be politically correct. And yes, I’ve seen plenty of Latinos say nigga (and it does not bother me) and I have seen black people call white people nigga (and it does not bother me). But there was something about John Leguizamo delivering these particular lines to this particular character that bothered me.
Maybe it’s because this guy, Max Landis, wrote American Ultra. Not exactly who I have in mind when I consider who has the agency to say nigga.
At any rate, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that John Leguizamo has a great body for a man of a certain age.
Which brings me to the black people who are in American Ultra. You already see Lavell Crawford pictured above. There was also Sam Malone, James Moses Black, and an actor who played one of the assets (not sure which one, but he had dreadlocks).
You know, considering I had low expectations, I was disappointed anyway. Unlike Vacation, which had stellar, but brief performances by Keegan-Michael Key and Regina Hall, the appearances by every black actor in American Ultra was forgettable. I don’t think the acting was bad, per se, but I think the dialogue was just blah–for the black actors as much as the rest of the entire cast.
You know, I really tried to like the film. It had a creative premise, fun action scenes, and believable performances by everyone, I suppose. And it was much more of an ensemble piece than I expected. But the plausibility of a plot is important to me, no matter how far-out it might be. Could it happen? If it could happen, is the script making me believe it? Are the actors?
In this case, I think the actors tried, but they couldn’t make a wack script hot.
At the end of the day, I could have randomly caught this on cable and enjoyed it. I left the theater feeling annoyed.
So yes, American Ultra has black people in it–but it might as well not.