American Assassin is the run of the mill spy movie. For all the complaining people did over the Starkiller Base from the Force Awakens, there should be an equal amount for spy movies and nuclear weapons. The film is engaging enough and offers a few solid performances, but doesn’t do anything new for the genre or standout in any significant way.
American Assassin is just a blip on the radar of spy movies
Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) is recruited into a CIA program by Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) after attempting to take out a terrorist cell by himself. He is sent to Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) for training before being sent into the field chasing weapons grade plutonium. Rapp’s commitment to the cause is extremely personal, but can he learn to set his revenge aside and follow orders for the greater good.
Keaton is excellent. In pretty much every movie and role he is given. It’s a shame that this film felt the need to fall into a lot of spy clichés. Hurley has an old protegé who has gone rogue played by Taylor Kitsch. There is the stolen weapons grade plutonium and the potential nuclear weapon. Of course, Rapp, the lead character is not great at following orders and tends to do what he thinks is right. That rogue protagonist who has a chip on his shoulder and thinks he is invincible. Yeah, it’s all in this film and predominantly plays out as one might expect.
Michael Cuesta is general a TV director, but does a competent job with the film. The action sequences feature the rapid cutting and shaky camera similar to Bourne, but with noticeably more stability. The film does take one aspect into a commonly unseen component of the genre though, and the visuals are compelling and memorable. A lot of the scenes feel slightly detached and just going through the motions to get to the climax, but none of it is particularly terrible.
Ultimately, American Assassin is one that is solid enough. There seems to be a desire to start a franchise, but it would really need to develop a lot more. Also, in a world with James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Ethan Hunt, there just may not be room for Mitch Rapp. American Assassin earns the Decent Watch rating.