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).
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.
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.