American Assassin

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MA 15+American Assassin

Directed by: Michael Cuesta

Produced by: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Nick Wechsler

Screenplay by: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz

Based on: ‘American Assassin’

Written by: Vince Flynn

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

In the same vein as previous characters adapted for on-screen action-thrillers, Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne, American Assassin is based on a series of action-thriller novels written by Vince Flynn, featuring Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien): a tortured soul out for revenge.

Training and fighting to kill the terrorists responsible for the death of his fiancé, Rapp is eventually recruited into the CIA by Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) to become part of an elite black ops outfit under the guiding, unwavering, cold hand of legend, Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton).American Assassin

Although a later book in the series, production decided on, ‘American Assassin’ as this shows the origins of Rapp and how he became such an angry, one-man terrorist killer.

There’s a familiar feel to the classic formula of the CIA super-recruit. And I’m a big fan of action-thrillers.  But the character Mitch Rapp didn’t have the same humanising warmth as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon).  Rapp is such a hard, angry, focussed young buck, that the film became twee at times with borderline over-acting from O’Brien.

Michael Keaton has the military bearing and intensity needed for the role of trainer, Hurley.  And the fight scenes and bloody bits (spraying into the camera at times) are all believable, giving the film the action-thriller title it deserves.

Yet, there’s just so much macho going on here.American Assassin

The villain, Ronnie, AKA, Ghost (Taylor Kitsch) was the softer of the assassins, to the extent I was tempted to root for him!

Director, Michael Cuesta previously directing, Kill The Messenger (2014) and TV episodes from the likes of Homeland and Dexter, gives American Assassin that dry, flat, violent feel without humour.  This is a serious movie.

And without the colourful Michael Keaton (although kept on a short leash), the film would have been relentless.  As is, I still felt myself drifting with the overdose of action so I lost interest as the film progressed.

Add some of that cheesy attitude of blind-sighted need for domination with exclamation from the soundtrack, I got put off, the suspension of belief wavering, so when Deputy Director Irene Kennedy kept calling Mitch Rapp, ‘Rapp’, I started to cringe.

So, better than Jack Reacher (particularly the first!) but not as good as Bourne.

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Deepwater Horizon

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Action/Drama           Rated: MDeepwater Horizon

Director: Peter Berg

Screenplay: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand

Screen Story: Matthew Sand

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brien and Kate Hudson.

Based on the article written by David Barstow, David Rohde and Stephani Saul: ‘Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours’, Deepwater Horizon is about one of the largest man-made disasters to have ever occurred.

Ultra-deep-water drilling off the coast of Louisiana, the rig suffered a massive blowout after pressure caused oil to explode up the pipeline.  The oil then caught fire destroying the rig.  The disaster killed 11 people and leaked 50,000 barrels of oil into the ocean for 87 days.

Deepwater Horizon is about putting the audience in the midst of the disaster, about pressure from the depths hard to fathom.  In fact, the whole scenario is difficult to get my head around because I’m not an engineer nor a deep sea drilling technician that understands drilling and pressure and the forces of rotting dinosaurs from a previous millennia.  And there isn’t a requirement to have this knowledge as the film shows the staff, doing what they do, without dumbing it down for the audience.

The story is shown in a way where you get it.  That the mud is used to contain the pressure of the oil, so that if it’s oozing up the pipes onto the rig, that’s a bad thing: the mud isn’t stopping the pressure.  And if that dial goes to a psi in the red area of the dial, that’s a very bad thing.

That’s what I liked about the film.  Being right there with the people working on this monstrous rig.

Mark Wahlberg as the Transocean chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, gives a great performance as an everyday guy doing his job.  And Kate Hudson as the wife waiting at home keeps the cheese to a minimum – it’s all about down-to-earth folk just dealing with it.

Wahlberg and director, Peter Berg, have worked together previously in the film, Lone Survivor.  Another survival story about making tough decisions. Berg doesn’t use cheap tricks to tug the heart strings, he just tells a tale with an authentic flavour and Wahlberg plays the no-nonsense hero well.  And the simplicity and straight forward telling of Deepwater Horizon gave the story more impact and power.  It was left to the audience to feel the emotion.

I love a good techy film and Deepwater Horizon filled the bill with great camera work to show the scale undertaken to drill into the depths of the ocean; and the explosion and visual spectacle of the disaster was totally believable on screen.

There was a glossing over of the politics of dealing with BP, but covered by the interaction between Donald Vidrine, the BP company man played by John Malkovich (he plays a villain just so well) and Kurt Russell as Mr. Jimmy who was the offshore installation manager.

Rather than the politics or emotional drama, Deepwater Horizon was more about the confrontation of the disaster itself.  And I liked that.

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