American Assassin movie can’t be taken seriously. It feels like every child’s dream when they are growing up, wishing to revolt against something, everything, and against everybody. Not listening to anybody, doing things as one pleases, being the sole hero, to stopping everything bad without bothering for consequences.
Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’ Brien) is a one-man army with absurd unrealistic dialogues in his mouth, who calls the shots himself and acts upon them all by himself. He doesn’t need a system to work. He has his own. Mitch is a dangerous man put on the field by an authority, and he acts like he doesn’t give two rats about anything or anyone.
American Assassin movie is bloating for attention, seems to be clearly aimed at teenagers who are secretly heroes, fighting the terrorists and defying the government, in their heads.
Plot of American Assassin Movie (Spoilers)
One of the best things about American Assassin is its opening scene where the tragedy happens.
We see Mitch proposing to his girlfriend Katrina (Charlotte Vega) on a beach in Ibiza and then heading off to get some drinks to celebrate. Terrorists appear out of the blue and start shooting randomly at the crowd. The struggle in Mitch’s eyes is real, as he heads out to check on Katrina even though he is shot at numerous times. That feeling of not being concerned about one’s own life and placing someone else above you is beyond compare. They both get shot but our hero survives. It saddens you terribly and your eyes manage to hit tears then.
It is like a single most upending moment in one’s life that defines everything thereon. Like something insanely huge we can’t forget. Unfortunately, American Assassin movie doesn’t milk that fact properly. We know the guy’s shattered but the poetry in Michael Cuesta‘s frames never ooze out. The movie takes that angst and then tries to carve a story out of it but fails at it terribly.
As we see a vigilante mission in progress, where Mitch is trying to hunt down the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s death, we observe CIA closely monitoring his acts. As he secures a meeting with the leader of the terrorist, US Special Forces swoop in killing all the terrorists in the room, including the one Mitch wanted to kill badly himself.
In a CIA safehouse meeting, Rapp is being questioned by Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan), who is the CIA Deputy Director. She offers him to be a part of special black code ops Orion. It is a downhill ride from that point onwards and you know then you can’t take the movie seriously with Mitch being overtly smug for a guy who was so serious and taciturn moments ago.
Orion is headed by a former US Navy Seal Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), another gem of an actor who ended up in a bland movie. The time we see the duo meet is the time you begin to see the true kiddish colors of American Assassin movie.
When the dialogues become as childish as this:
If you and I go hand to hand you could probably figure out inside 20 seconds whether I have what it takes to make it through your selection process. So what do you say?
Then the training begins which seems to be as absurd as failing to use the insanely gifted fighting skills of Scott Adkins. He plays Victor, a fellow teammate who gets killed even before we could see him in action. Wasn’t this supposed to be an action film? Then why not use available resources, Michael Cuesta?
Taylor Kitsch as Ghost
As Orion trains the already talented Mitch with a couple of cliches like this:
He is not ready.
There’s a villain wading through covert deals trying to get all nuclear.
Ghost played by Taylor Kitsch is our villain for the movie, who we find out once was trained by Hurley himself. We see him stealing Plutonium and then disappearing into the crowd.
Hurley’s team goes into action on a mission to intercept the buyer but the whole plan goes kaput with Ghost’s intervention. But Mitch, the badass hero he is supposed to be, doesn’t follow orders and chases the buyer to his apartment, and retrieves his laptop after a brief fight. With the information on the laptop, CIA figures out that Ghost needs a nuclear physicist to turn the plutonium into a nuclear weapon.
The mission then switches to Rome as the team gets made by Ghost, but Hurley comes in just the nick of time to save the team. However, Ghost manages to escape.
Mitch figures out his companion agent Annika to be an Iranian intelligence agent and captures her. She later explains that she was a part of an Iranian faction trying to stop nuclear material to change hands.
Hurley, meanwhile, is meeting with an Iranian contact of his. A guy who was Annika’s father too. The latter gets shot as Hurley is captured by Ghost.
The Final Volley
Mitch helps Annika to escape and asks her help to find the whereabouts of Ghost. Hurley is tortured by Ghost as he arms the nuke. Mitch arrives into the tunnels. A fight ensues. Annika gets killed as Ghost escapes on a boat.
Hurley figures out Ghost’s intentions to use the nuke against the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet. Mitch, the hero, then fights Ghost killing him in the process, and then flying away in a helicopter as the nuke explodes in the sea.
The damage is reduced considerably with the nuke jettison as the fleet goes on to carry on the nuclear decontamination protocol.
As an epilogue we see Hurley recovering as Irene pays him a visit in the hospital. They talk about the whereabouts of Mitch as the TV in the backdrop implies Iranian hardliners’ sure-shot win in the elections. Later we see the hardliners’ leader entering the elevator as Mitch smiles at him. The movie shuts to a closing elevator.
You can order American Assassin from here:
The Good and the Bad
One of the good things about the movie is hands down, Dylan O’ Brien. Never for a second do we find him letting his guard down. He doesn’t flinch while he acts. It is just that his dialogues were too cocky that made everything sound stupid. Michael Keaton is good too. He stretches the movie for a considerable amount of time as a trainer but the fact that a guy like Mitch always does something defiant makes his character appear really insignificant.
The screenplay has nothing out of the box in it or even something that forces you to think. It isn’t cleverly written. There isn’t even a morsel of good dialogues for us to feast on.
Then there is that absence of energy you feel at all times. Stunts aren’t really eye-popping or even close to something that will make your heart stop. The only visually appealing and attractive scene is holed up at the very end where we see the Nuclear Bomb actually exploding, and its titanic wave uprooting masts from ships. That’s the only scene I think that might force you to dilate your eyes in the entire flick.
The Final Verdict
American Assassins story has nothing new to offer. Things are quite cliched if you watch a lot of action movies. There are tons of movies out there made on similar lines. The best parts of the flick are located at the starting and the ending. While Dylan delivers a great performance, its poor preparation makes it really insipid.
In short, there is just too much of child written on it.
Check out other reviews of Dylan O’ Brien movies.
Check out the trailer of American Assassin Movie here: