A Very Quick Synopsis
American Assassin (2017) is about Mitch Rapp played by Dylan O’Brien (Maze Runner, Teen Wolf) being trained by Stan Hurley, portrayed by Michael Keaton (Spider-man: Homecoming, Spotlight, The Founder) as they go around the world as part of a counterterrorism organization.
American Assassin tries to build a well motivated character but it does so by the “beautiful partner affect.” In the opening moments of the movie we see O’Brien’s character on a beach with his *spoiler warning* soon to be dead recently proposed to partner played by Charlotte Vega. There is no real reason the audience should care about them other than they are beautiful and in love then tragedy happens. Then there’s a hard cut to months later and Mitch Rapp is now a MMA trained, knife throwing, expert marksman that speaks multiple languages on a mission to single handedly stop terrorism. Seems like a lot, right? But we don’t get to see any of that. Instead we are treated to Rapp’s self alienation while he is on shady terrorism chat rooms planning to “join” them in order to exact revenge for the death of his girlfriend, whom we spent 5 minutes with.
Mitch Rapp’s character motivation doesn’t feel genuine. We think that he wants revenge for his girlfriend’s death but since that is resolved quickly his motivation gets muddied a bit. The change in his goal shifts from revenge to more selfish reasons like fighting terrorism because he wasn’t the one to pull the trigger on the person that killed his girlfriend. It’s not Dylan O’Brien’s fault by any means. He is still pretty fresh in his career as a movie actor having only the Maze Runner movies under his belt. But as time goes on he’s surely to come into his own as an actor. Perhaps it might be the wrong genre for him or simply the wrong time.
This will be quick. Although Michael Keaton is the biggest name on this movie, it feels that he wasn’t given the respect that the actor deserved. What I mean to say is that his character, much like O’Brien’s wasn’t really built. Keaton’s character could have been played by any other actor in that age group. Instead he feels like a stand in for the older man that is going to pass on his wisdom to the young recruit and at the same time resolve his previous apprentice whom has gone rogue. And that’s pretty much the movie. Taylor Kitsch’s character, Ghost, was the previous version of Rapp. By which he was highly trained and also a “natural” at what he does. Keaton and Kitsch’s characters former relationship is more at the forefront of the movie rather than fighting terrorism, which Ghost is highly involved in and attempts to exact HIS own revenge on the U.S. Navy.
Is it worth the ticket?
In all honesty, American Assassin might be a pass for a lot of people. Since it is being advertised as an action-thriller, it’s best to critic it as such and unfortunately this movie tries and fails in what it might be trying to do. While it is a step away from typical action-thrillers that many people have gotten used to nowadays, it definitely feels like more of the same. There are moments that show the affects of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick and Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde. Thanks to these two movies the bar has been raised on action movies showing that there can be a development of character as well as world building.
I give movie 5/10. It tries to be safe and right down the middle without taking any chances so I’ll rate it as such.
This review was written by a person who has never seen Teen Wolf.