REVIEW: American Assassin
Directed by Michael Cuarte
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Michael Cuarte, American Assassin stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, and Taylor Kitsch. Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) is hired by a covert CIA black ops team after taking his own personal vendetta out against the terrorists who killed his wife. Under the hard guidance of Stan Hurley (Keaton), Rapp is sent out to stop the ultimate terrorists from doing the unspeakable: nuclear destruction.
American Assassin boasts a pretty solid cast thanks to actors like O’Brien and Keaton, and there is some decent hand-to-hand choreography at play, but that’s it. Not kidding, that is all American Assassin has to gloat about.
I feel like I’m repeating myself after SO many average movies this year, but American Assassin is just as dull, just as uninvolving and oddly more brainless than many of those average-rated movies. The story starts out feeling like an incisive spy thriller, with European terrorist attacks and the responses we have to them, but as soon as Keaton’s secret team comes in, all plausibility and originality gets buried.
Michael Keaton’s performance is definitely the best thing here, but that’s really because he is having these weird, psycho moments out of nowhere during a dark dramatic moment. The reason why weird, left turn outburst work the best is because that drama is so boring. American Assassin is trying so hard to be the next Jason Bourne franchise, but that’s the problem: Jason Bourne hasn’t been good since 2007. So why bother?
The story just keeps chugging along with a sub-par “rogue agent stealing a nuke” plot ripped straight from Mission: Impossible, does have a few taut fights, but then ends in the most bizarre, out-of-place, terrible CGI comic-book climax which makes no sense.
Again, like so many movies of this year, I ask what was the point of American Assassin. I don’t buy Dylan O’Brien as the lead of a new action franchise, the writing lacks subtlety, the direction is all over the place, and the story is just a jumbled, rusted machine. The spy-action-thriller genre is not a sell anymore, unless you can find a new way to approach it. American Assassin is nothing new, and isn’t worth remembering in an hour.