“American Assassin” is directed by Michael Cuesta and stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, and Taylor Kitsch. This film is based on the first in a series of novels by Vince Flynn about Mitch Rapp who, after his girlfriend is shot by Islamic terrorists, decides to join the counterterrorism world in the CIA where he would do black ops under veteran Stan Hurley.
As a fan of action movies, I was pretty excited to watch this film, even though it does not seem like the kind of film to win any awards. Coming in, I was hoping for mostly a fun action film that could mix some drama in along with it.
The first thing I love about “American Assassin” was the job they did with the casting. Dylan O’Brien does a great job playing Mitch Rapp, really getting you to buy into the pain and suffering he has gone through, and the desire to get back at people who intend to harm innocent people like his late girlfriend. For me, this was a huge breakout performance for O’Brien who has only really been in “The Maze Runner” trilogy, and the television series “Teen Wolf” before his major role here. Michael Keaton is also tremendous in his role as Stan Hurley. The duo of he and O’Brien have a way of turning of film that we, in essence, have seen numerous times in the past into a seemingly new and wildly entertaining one.
Although the plot is at times somewhat hard to follow, I felt that it came together quite nicely at the end. There is certainly no lack of action-packed scenes throughout the film, as Mitch is constantly running around all over the Middle East with Hurley and Annika, the Turkish agent helping them in their endeavors. Unlike some action films that drag whenever they are in the midst of an action scene, “American Assassin” kept me engaged and intrigued until the very end.
Outside of the performances of O’Brien and Keaton, I thought Taylor Kitsch was outstanding in his role. Although I cannot say who he is or the kind of role his character plays in the film, I don’t think that I can emphasize enough how much I loved his performance.
It is also worth noting that Enrique Chediak’s cinematography was astounding, as he creates some marvelous shots throughout the film.
I mentioned before that the plot was at times hard to follow, but that is not my biggest gripe with it. I hinted at the fact earlier that we have seen films like this before, and we have. The plot was all too predictable once you reach the final thirty minutes or so. However, like I said, this problem is saved by some great performances by an overall solid cast. The film may be based on the novel, so there may be less freedom on the writers to fix this problem, but the predictability is something that should have been worked on.
My biggest concern came with the directing of the film. During a majority of the action scenes, there are just far too many cuts for you to ever really get a good grasp of what is going on. This just seemed a tad bit lazy. Not every scene was like this, but it seemed that many were – especially towards the beginning.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time watching “American Assassin.” The film is not one that is going to catch the attention of The Academy by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one worth seeing. It is another superb performance by Michael Keaton, a surprisingly great one by Taylor Kitsch, and an absolute breakout for Dylan O’Brien. If you even remotely enjoy action films or are interested by the CIA, I would recommend giving “American Assassin” a shot.
What did you think of “American Assassin”? Comment below with your thoughts.