American Assassin movie cast: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, Shiva Negar, Sanaa Lathan
American Assassin movie director: Michael Cuesta
American Assassin movie rating: 2 stars
A man’s fiancee gets killed in the midst of his wedding proposal; he gets a glimpse of the killer in a skull cap; and in 18 months, the angry young man learns to use guns, martial arts and Arabic, plus hooks up with top jehadis, talking blood, Allah and infidels, and lands up in Libya seeking revenge. The CIA has been watching, and guess what it does? It hires the unhinged, unhappy fellow as a top-of-the-line secret agent, to be trusted with, among other things, saving the world.
American Assassin is an adaptation of a book series by Vince Flynn, the late author who counted among his fans both presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, and as per his website, even Barack Obama. Flynn’s reputation rests on him being “a little too accurate”. Well.
Here, after we are done with that quick tour of Islamic terror, and that brief halt at Tripoli, the needle of villainy comes to rest (where else but) on a “decommissioned Russian submarine”, and later on Donald Trump’s pet peeve, Iran. Radioactive plutonium is lost, enough to build a nuclear weapon, and Iran is acting suitably fishy.
The new recruit mentioned above, Mitch Rapp (O’Brien), has been put through a sadist training exercise by an ex-Navy SEAL legend, Hurley (Keaton). Hurley should know better given how one of his pet trainees ended up, but clearly pointing guns at sleeping CIA recruits is the only way he knows how to do business. Mitch comes to Hurley with high recommendations from the ‘CIA Deputy Director for Counter-Terror Efforts’, Kennedy (Lathan). A person of her rank has been personally tracking his revenge journey, and where the rest of the world might see a youth in need of help, she sees motivation. When she is not singing Mitch’s praises, Kennedy is standing before some more screens and frowning.
Once plutonium has entered the picture, the scene quickly shifts — from Hurley’s forest cabin with its armed aggressive men wrestling in the mud in verdant Virginia, to Poland, Turkey, Romania, and finally Rome. One instruction Hurley has for his men is “not to leave a footprint” in the areas they pass through in their world-saving quests. They leave behind dead bodies, shootouts, and blasts.
The sex quotient, of heels, breasts and lips, is provided by CIA agent Annike (Negar), all of which she uses basically to get information out of hotel clerks.
A better film would have done something with the fact that the man Mitch and Hurley end up fighting is a product of the very system that sets people like them out into the world, to ask no questions and do all the bidding. However, American Assassin has little time for such ruminations, instead it has this enemy (Kitsch) torture Hurley at length and at leisure. While a nuclear bomb ticks away.
Some would call that about accurate.