“American Assassin” stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, and Taylor Kitsch. Released on September 15, 2017, the film is about a young CIA black ops recruit who is sent to stop a mysterious operative from launching a nuke in the Middle East.
The film is directed by Michael Cuesta, who also directed films such as L.I.E., 12 and Holding, Roadie, and Kill the Messenger. It is based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Vince Flynn. Before O’Brien heads back into Maze Runner territory with the final installment releasing next year, he’s attempting to become an action star for a much older audience. While I haven’t read the book that the movie’s based on (as usual), it didn’t prevent me from being interested in it, mostly due to the cast and the fact that I enjoy watching action films. But were these things able to carry the entire film? Well, yes and no.
On the positive side, the cast did a decent job with their performances, including Dylan O’Brien as Mitch Rapp. Michael Keaton is the most enjoyable out of the entire cast as Stan Hurley, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and a Cold War veteran who trains Rapp, because you seriously can’t go wrong with Keaton. That guy’s a remarkable actor. Although I do appreciate O’Brien’s talent as well, I’m afraid he’s got a long way to go if he’s going to make it big as a young action star. I also didn’t mind Taylor Kitsch’s performance as the villainous operative known as “Ghost” despite his character being a cliched antagonist who wants to blow stuff up. The action sequences really want you to know that it’s R-rated for a reason. Aside from the bloody gun battles and some brutal punches, it has a torture scene that may be unnerving for some people, so if you’re planning on taking a bathroom break, this is probably the right time to do so. Other than that, they’re pretty entertaining for what they were and not as heavily edited as some action films like Taken 3. The entire story is basically a revenge-seeking tale about a young man who is consumed with vengeance after the death of his girlfriend. He will stop at absolutely nothing to search and kill all of the terrorists who were responsible for her demise. If you’re looking for an original and well-written revenge film, this one isn’t it. It offers the same revenge-seeking elements that we’re familiar with, and the screenplay didn’t do that much to overcome them. There were also plenty of missed opportunities to develop strong characters and the relationships between them, especially Rapp and Annika (Shiva Negar).
Overall, “American Assassin” hits hard, but doesn’t leave that much of a bruise when it comes to the plot and the characters. The cast and its sense of thrills were decent enough to carry the film forward, but that’s about it. It’s somehow entertaining as a regular R-rated action film, but forgettable for those who wanted an Oscar-quality action thriller.