American Assassin Review
Director: Michael Cuesta.
I remember seeing the trailer and at first thought, "oh, this looks promising" seemingly grounded like the early Bourne's and the newer Bonds, but then towards the end of the trailer, I'm thinking the film is going to give way to wanting to be too dramatic, swaying from convincing spy thriller to unbelievable actioner. So does the film actually give us more than what the trailer is offering?
The story is based on the highly successful novel series of 15 books, written by Vince Flynn, each one making the New York Times Best-Sellers list. This film being based on the 11th novel of the series, which is actually a prequel to the rest of the previous books making this an origins story of sorts and potentially the launch of another Bourne/Bond'esque franchise.
Our protagonist is an angry, vengeful and dedicated vigilante who sets out to wipe out as many terrorists as possible, particular those responsible for the murder of his fiancé. An opening sequence which is quite horrific and does well to prove his motives. His actions obviously gain the attention of the CIA who could use a guy like himself and end up recruiting him, placing in a specialist training camp.
O'Brien plays the hot-shot, over confident, rebellious protégé, wanna-be-super-assassin, Mitch Rapp who wants to take on the entire world. He cares little for the authority that's suppose to keep him in check and instead does whatever he can to fulfil his own agenda. Though he isn't an antihero as such, more like a lethal weapon kept on a long lease probably doing the dirty work his superiors want to get done anyway and turn a blind-eye pretending he didn't just do that.
O'Brien is actually pretty good, believable and has the best character development. He does well taking the lead which adds to the character's lone wolf persona. But fortunately, the rest of the cast, including Keaton, which may have been a strong selling point for this film, isn't that good. His performance feels forced and isn't up to par with Keaton's recent work. Adkins and Nagar feel more like props to the story than actual good supporting characters and what is Poirot doing in the picture?
It's a very basic script with the best line given away in the trailer. That one line O'Brien says "my guess is, if you and I go hand to hand you can probably figure out inside twenty seconds whether I have what it takes to make it through the selection process" is enough if spur any action/spy junkie's intrigue but it's unfortunately the only line that really stands out and it doesn't get any better than that with remaining script being nothing more than clichéd jargon.
Sadly, the trailer is pretty much the entire film in a nutshell and as it suggests, the latter part of the story seriously lets the rest of the story down. It seems to skip what should be been a good part of the story, the training, to then quickly escalates to nuclear threat placing our hero right in the heart of it. Just like the trailer, it starts off so well, stutters in the middle where is shouldn't have, to then totally losing the plot by the end with a heavy dose of cheese added on top.
The film really does try though, and unfortunately lacks in most areas purely due to being the usual spy actioner we're all use to seeing. It tries to be smart but isn't, lacking any real substance but for all it's flaws, it's still quite entertaining, well paced, strangely inspiring and with some good strong action. It's nicely put together with credit going to Conrad Buff, the editor who, to me, a non-editor, is one of the most recognised names in the action field. Mostly collaborating with directors like James Cameron, Antoine Fuqua and M. Night Shyamalan on films such as Titanic, The Abyss, Terminator 2, Training Day, King Arthur and The Happening among many more. It's this that keeps the film from being a total disaster. The fight scenes are of decent quality but it's nothing we haven't seen before.
It's a step-up from Stratton which was released earlier this month, but is no way near the same level of early Bourne or newer Bond making it your run-of-the-mill spy action flick.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 7
Job Description: 6
The Extra Bonus Point: 0
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