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American Assassin Movie Review (2017) | Every Rebellious Child’s Dream

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.

still of Dylan O' Brien as Mitch Rapp in American Assassin movie

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.

Vengeance

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.

American Assassin movie still

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.

Rome

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.

still of Annika and Mitch from American Assassin

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:

Doctor Strange Review (2016) | Benedict Cumberbatch Uplifts the Uplifted

Doctor Strange is as badass as Marvel gets. You take the inbred flamboyance of Benedict Cumberbatch into consideration and remove those palisades of expression that bind him, you take his innate knack for humour and let it flow with his perfect timing, you let him really get under the skin of a character that you so profusely adore, and lo! You have got yourself a winning movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch: The Winner (Spoilers Ahead)

Haven’t we always secretly wished Benedict Cumberbatch to portray a superhero at some point? With a diverse portfolio like that of his, that keeps getting better every day, playing a superhero for him was always on the cards. Yes, he gives you more reasons to love him every day. This time by joining forces with the Marvel golden goose that has never really missed. It doesn’t miss this time either.

benedict cumberbatch as doctor strange in doctor strange movie

When you take a good look at the movie, Benedict Cumberbatch is it. He is there in the entire movie. In every frame, in every act you can feel his strong presence. That being said, Doctor Strange is all about it too. Such a great sorcerer he is that you can’t want him enough. And so he delivers! His solo movie that runs all by his magic fuel.

Humour in the movie is just the right amount as Marvel prefers. Melodrama is superbly complemented by Benedict’s knack for it. You can’t help but feel sorry for him when you see him completely decimated by that car accident in the beginning. The seemingly torture that follows is havocking for him, and he makes you feel all of that. It is a relief when you find his life head towards a different purpose.

Characters in Doctor Strange Movie

Rachel McAdams does a great Christine Palmer, firing up that fun element whenever Strange’s strangeness is around. Scott Adkinson as Lucian gets another ephemeral yet a fairly good part with Marvel; he doesn’t go unnoticed. It is Tilda Swinton however as The Ancient One that steals the show forming the primal carver of the story. The part where she wishes to go, when time stops has been gorgeously manifested. The screenplay there reaches levels of awe.

still of mads mikkelsen as kaecilius in doctor strange

Mads Mikkelsen invests himself well, doing a powerful Kaecilius but unfortunately gets a very limited part to prove his perversion. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo looks very promising and has a bright future ahead with Marvel.

Astounding Bits

Even in those rare vexing fight scenes, Scott manages to hold everything together. The depiction of the Sanctums, and the confusion of topsy-turvy worlds have been helmed with a superlative touch. One of the finest things that happen to Strange is the Cloak of Levitation. Instantly takes you back in time to remind you of Aladdin’s Magic Carpet. Extraordinary stuff!

Steve Ditko’s original comic series has been paid plenty of tribute on numerous occasions. That scene where they fight in an Astral plane as Palmer operates on him, is so intelligently thought of that you cannot applaud the creator enough.

There is beauty in Scott’s depiction as Strange bends time to his will experimenting with the fate of an apple. The final climactic scene to force Dormammu to bow down to Doctor Strange’s bargain was one of the most brilliant ways to vanquish someone. It goes on to show how insane Doctor Strange’s powers really are. You can’t help but wonder how strong is Doctor Strange really?

You can pre-order Doctor Strange movie from here:

Direction of Doctor Strange

I have always admired Scott Derrickson’s direction. Even in a movie as powerless as Deliver Us from Evil we found him steady as a rock, working hard. He never lets his sobriety wane, and that shows in his diligent work. Thus Doctor Strange has been helmed too. Right from the point of giving us a badass perspective into the life of the extraordinary yet egotistic surgeon Stephen Strange to the point of him coming to terms with subsequent dimensions in our reality, scenes have been brilliantly directed.

Downsides

It is what follows immediately after however makes you wish there was a better visual exploration about the things we don’t know, rather than immediately getting up to speed with Strange quickly packing in powers, and heading towards unveiling the secrets of the Eye of Agomotto. It seemed as if that was the only thing left to do at Kamar-Taj. Forced!

still of tilda swinton the ancient one showing doctor strange astral plane

With that awe-inspiring push into the extant multi-dimensions, Doctor Strange’s vision is something that will give you goosebumps. It makes you think of all the possibilities that stay hidden from naked eyes. Till that point of time you are gnawing at a lot of plausibility. But then it bereaves you when things kind of speed up. You don’t see the Ancient One taking Strange for a ride after he begins learning stuff, which in fact, sadly pulls off the plug from reality.

You come back wondering – it’s a comic after all. Stephen’s transformation into the superhero we think he is, gets affected owing to that, and it heads into your vantage of Marvel’s illusion almost immediately.

Doctor Strange Movie Editing

Editing, I am afraid, hasn’t been done properly either. As the movie quickly gallops towards an astral perspective, you see a lot of scenes getting chopped off mid-way, in order to move on. Viewers aren’t allowed to have a proper focus when it’s the learning hour for him.

To the point where the learning of Dr. Strange begins, the flick works seamlessly with ample plausibility. And then in order to move the story forward you see frequent time lapses making it chug at the speed of bullet.

Also, the fact that there is no calm sieving explanation of how and why laws of physics are bent in their worlds or how it all functions. I wish Ancient One had taken him for a ride explaining their ways of living, even though it would have been a spiritual sojourn, it would still have made things a tad more believable.

The Final Verdict

At the end of the day, Doctor Strange remains a character in Marvel’s colossal database. And that too one of the finest ones! MCU has been blessed with Benedict’s presence now. I guess it is time to show him crossing ways with the other Sherlock. Can’t wait for that!

With Benedict joining the elite house of the Avengers, things are endearingly heading towards the ultimate act of badassery.  And Thanos wink intended.

Yes there are end credit scenes. Two of them. So you can wait if you like fitting pieces in the puzzle.

Here’s another cool article I wrote a case study on Hulk’s cardinal sedative. Check it out.

You can also check out the trailer of Doctor Strange movie here:

Criminal Review (2016)

Terrible waste of talent!

Okay, so the cast of the Criminal will blow your mind away. But was it all really needed when you were trying to cook an under-cooked meal? When you look at the screen time people have in the flick, known faces that try to earn a role with their popularity meter have measly dialogues to deliver, you can’t help feel sorry for them. I will name them one by one.

SPOILER CRIMINAL CHARACTERS

  1. Ryan Reynolds: Although Criminal tries to cash in on his name, he has the most laconic role ever. He disappears with a cameo. Budget issues? I get it that it was supposed to be the storyline. But really, you kill him that early? At least delve into the details!
  2. Scott Adkins: The guy can do so much. But all Vromen asked him to do was stand next to Oldman taking orders, listening to what’s next in the course like a normal guy. That was pretty much it! Did the director even know he could fight? Should have taken tips to include a fight scene at least?
  3. Michael Pitt: All he did was wait, smoke, wait more, react to some failure, eventually got shot.
  4. Antje Traue: She looked promising for a while as she slithered in that T-X kinda feel. But where does she end up? Under a bashed pot!
  5. Tommy Lee Jones: He appeared to the scene when he wanted to expound terse memory concepts, and to get ravaged by another ‘Old’Man fury.
  6. Amaury Nolasco: He was just there.
  7. Alice Eve: Was she even there?

Taking the spotlight to other actors now, those who could really act. Starting off with Kevin Costner. He still has it in him. You have to give it to him. Had this plot demanded more of him, I have no doubt he could deliver. Gal Gadot was simply good. Gary Oldman gets under the skin of his character so good that you cannot even poke him without getting gouged at. He is definitely good. Unfortunately none of them knew what ground they were in. It was a landslide, and they were dancing on it.

BETTER DIRECTOR FOR CRIMINAL?

I wish the concept of Criminal found a better director. Definitely not Ariel Vromen. There is no subtlety in him. It flung me into minutes of boredom and insouciance in the beginning itself that it was hard to concentrate. Good thing Costner did some crazy stuff to bring back the Mojo. Otherwise, it was simply falling down.

I say, this movie is criminal. It deprived us of our time, and plundered us of our money.