American Assassin – An Action Flick Which Fails to Thrill
Movie Review by Annie Cynthia (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Combined with a dragging screenplay, unconvincing plot, characters and hanging-in-the-air edits, American Assassin is a boring film that feels like a drag right after a few seconds into the first half. You might end up shifting in your seat quite a few times and ask yourself, “Is it time for some popcorn break yet?” But do not dismiss it right away. Luckily, the second half manages to tide over the gaping holes in the plot and gives us some hope.
For starters, this is an adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name written by Vince Flynn. Big story short – Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) has been plotting vengeance after he lost his girlfriend to a group of Islamic terrorists, who had opened fire at their vacation spot. He is recruited by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) for a special Black Operations unit called ‘Orion’ and is trained by its leader, Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), an ex US Navy SEAL. They, along with an Iranian undercover agent Annika (Shiva Negar), fight through blood and fire to track and stop a highly skilled, ex-Orion agent called ‘Ghost’ (Taylor Kitsch), who has now turned into a ruthless psychopath. The latter intends to carry out a nuclear blast on the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet.
Michael Cuesta’s direction is disappointing for fans, who have been a witness to his beautiful storytelling in coming-of-age drama, L.I.E and acclaimed TV shows like Dexter and True Blood — Sorry Michael. When writers of films like Lolita, Love and Other drugs and the war thriller, Blood Diamond come together as a team for writing a film’s story, you expect fireworks. But they churn out a mediocre fare.
Dylan O’Brien has transformed from the young teenager of Maze Runner into a rugged and edgy looking fighter. He pretty much holds the movie together and exhibits his anger, pain and frustration in a manner that you can actually feel it. Taylor Kitsch is cool, smart and an able support to Dylan’s character onscreen. Michael Keaton plays the bold veteran with a dark sense of humor and adds some comic relief. Sanaa Lathan is a misfit as a CIA Deputy Director and doesn’t have a strong screen presence essential for the role. Shiva Negar adds color to the monochrome action with her stunning red outfit and charming looks. The other characters in the movie just come and go, without making much of an impact.
The action sequences are raw and a treat to action genre fans. The cinematography by Enrique Chediak is clean and covers some pleasant green hues in certain shots which is pleasing to the eyes and serve as a background to the action sequences. The background score by Steven Price is mild and apt. The Special Effects and post-production work is pretty impressive, especially the sequences that feature a fire blast and nuclear explosion. They are so realistic, you might wish for 3D glasses.
With seen-before and predictable plotline where the villain is hell bent on starting a nuclear war and the lead protagonist dissuading and trying to stop him through a game of shooting, chasing and finding the truth; there is nothing new that the film has to offer. This action-film fails to thrill. We aren’t sure why Michael Cuesta made this film in the first place. Good luck, next time Michael.