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Midvale Journal

Dan's Review: "American Assassin" is nothing new

Sep 14, 2017 07:21PM ● By Dan Metcalf

American Assassin (CBS Films)

Rated R for strong violence throughout, some torture, language and brief nudity.

Starring Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, Taylor Kitsch, David Suchet, Navid Negahban, Scott Adkins, Charlotte Vega.

Written by Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz.

Directed by Michael Cuesta.



Them darned terrorists. Just when it seemed that movies about Islamic terrorists was out of vogue, along comes American Assassin to remind everyone about their naughty doings, and the troubling nature of combating their antics.

Dylan O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a young man whose fiancé (Charlotte Vega) is gunned down by terrorists only a few minutes after his proposal on an Ibiza beach. Driven by revenge, Mitch trains himself to be an assassin and works through back channels to join the terrorists and eliminate them. Little does he know that the CIA is tracking his every move in hopes to use him to track the cell that killed everyone in Ibiza. Just when he infiltrates the cell, the CIA converges, kills the terrorists, and takes Mitch into custody. Rather than jail him, CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) recruits Mitch to join an elite anti-terrorism squad, trained and led by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). Despite his lack of military training Mitch proves to be an ideal trainee and is selected to be part of team on the hunt for a former CIA agent who is selling a nuclear weapon to another group of terrorists. The former agent is also a former Hurley protégé code-named “Ghost” (Taylor Kitsch), which brings up all kinds of regrets and problems as the chase intensifies. Along the way, Mitch must deal with a deceptive Iranian anti-terrorist group, one of which has infiltrated Hurley’s elite squad. Oh, I forgot to mention that the nuke in question came from Iran…you know that country the U.S. made a pact with to keep nukes from terrorists, but that’s just part of the real-word subtext…

The big hunt for ends in a face-to-face with Hurley and his rogue agent, culminating with a grand chase by Mitch to eliminate Ghost save the world from a nuclear explosion.

American Assassin isn’t a remarkable film, nor does it offer any new insights into real-world issues (unless you have relevant political thoughts about the wisdom of the Iran nuclear deal, but I digress). It’s your basic action thriller with stereotypical players, fight scenes and outcomes. Keaton gives a decent performance and gives the movie some star power, but the rest of the story is rife with darkness and some graphic violence. 

You may enjoy some of the action and a rather huge “boom” at the finale, but there isn’t anything noteworthy about American Assassin, which will be placed on the same heap as other fictional anti terrorist films trying hard to channel their inner Tom Clancy.

American Assassin Trailer