American Assassin is a film that promised a lot more than it delivers.
The trailer gave hope that this movie would be a little more than a standard beat ‘em up flick. Alas, it fell for the pitfalls of cheeky one-liners and clichés.
The film centers on the story of Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) who vows revenge after terrorists kill his fiancée. Months of training and searching pay off when he finds the people responsible.
Rapp takes a trip to the Middle East to meet with the group he has been talking with online. However, just as he is about to act, a CIA team bursts through the door and takes out the cell. Rapp is then taken into custody.
While undergoing questing Rapp is given the opportunity to use his anger to protect the country by joining the agency. Soon after, it is discovered that some nuclear material has gone missing. The task to prevent a nuclear incident from happening is given to Rapp and his teammates.
The story of “American Assassin” is not a new one, as it has just been repackaged over and over — man loses the person he loves and seeks revenge for that person’s death and so on.
I can name about a dozen other movies that have a similar plot but are better written and acted. One such group of movies would be the “Bourne” series starring Matt Damon.
American Assassin’s story is thin and built around its highly scripted fight scenes. These scenes were supposed to propel the plot forward but acted more like an anchor.
The other issue with this film was the poor casting choice of placing O’Brien in a leading role. O’Brien really does not fit the role of secret agent. Instead of getting Jason Bourne or James Bond the audience gets a blend of MacGyver and Joe Dirt mixed with Keanu Reeves. It is the type of performance that makes any movie painful to watch — let alone enjoy.
The other problem with “American Assassin” was the casting of Michael Keaton. Keaton plays Stan Hurley, who is Rapp’s CIA instructor. Keaton's acting seems to be way over the top as a guiding mentor to Rapp. Whenever he invokes his folksy wisdom or shares his life experience it comes off as just plain strange.
If you are looking for one movie to miss, then “American Assassin” might be the one to skip at the theater.
I give “American Assassin” one and a half mustaches out of five. This film is rated R for strong violence throughout, some torture, language, and brief nudity.