American Assassin       review by Bobby Blakey

These days every film company is looking for that next big franchise, but sadly most are looking for the young adult genre that is played out. Every so often a nice R rated actioner comes along looking to build a possible franchise with the latest being American Assassin based on the novel in the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn. The film features a great cast including Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, Scott Adkins and Taylor Kitsch but does it offer up anything to stand out as something unique or will it fail to complete its mission?

American Assassin follows the rise of Mitch Rapp a CIA black ops recruit under the instruction of Cold War veteran Stan Hurley.  The pair is then enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy to investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on both military and civilian targets.  Together the three discover a pattern in the violence leading them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a World War in the Middle East. Going into this film the trailer suggests more of a revenge flick, but without reading the book I had no idea that there was a different direction it was going. While this could have been an issue, it actually made it a better movie than I thought it was going to be. They waste no time getting right into the thick of it all to set the tone of Mitch Rapp’s journey. Dylan O’Brien does a great job with the character and showcases the ability to make for a great action hero. His journey to get to the badass he is actually makes more sense than I thought it would even if some aspects of him accomplishing his tasks are a bit farfetched.

 

When the film shifts into his journey into the world of an assassin it offers up more than just the revenge story I was expecting. This introduces us to Keaton’s Hurley who is an intense joy to watch. Keaton has continued to revitalize his career with every performance and while there are moments of clichéd action thriller here Keaton is a awesome throughout. The dynamic with he and O’Brien is excellent making two characters that are worth seeing in action both physically or in just the war of words. The always awesome Adkins has a small role in the team which had me excited being a huge fan of his, but was let down by how they used him. Make no mistake he is great, the issue is really my own just wanting more of what I see in his own films all the time. The story here is decent enough and offers up tons of great action and a decent villain in Kitsch although it felt pretty generic at times.

 

A big thing that needs to work for a film like this is the action and it does great. They offer up some intense bloody action without it being overly gratuitous. The fighting is chaotic but well executed and gets better as the film goes on. The ending is a bit over the top and has some shoddy CGI, but still does try to make the threat feel bigger. In the end I really dug this film and hope it does well enough to set up more adventures with O”Brien and Keaton. These two alone make this film work and worth checking out.

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