American Assassin | 2017
I saw this last week Thursday and thought I’d write about it. I also just accidentally posted a YouTube video. Ignore it!
There seems to be mixed feelings about this movie but… I’m not sure why. No, it’s not going to set the world on fire (well…) and maybe a movie about terrorism isn’t what we need (but were any of the others needed?) but it’s called American Assassin. People get shot. Shit blows up. There are car chases. That’s all you can expect.
Anyway, the plot was fairly standard:
Mitch Rapp and his girlfriend are on vacation in Basque, Spain, when a radical Islamist jihadist cell lands on the beach and begins to attack the civilians with assault rifles. Amid the carnage, Rapp frantically attempts to find his girlfriend, but is unable to prevent her death at the hands of the terrorists.
Eighteen months later, Rapp, now consumed by his desire for vengeance, frequents an internet message board where the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s murder quizzes Rapp on aspects of Islam and jihad. Having secured an invitation to meet him face to face, Rapp prepares to take his vengeance on the man responsible for his girlfriend’s death.
When Cold War veteran Stan Hurley takes CIA black ops recruit Mitch Rapp under his wing, they receive an assignment to investigate a wave of random attacks on both military and civilian targets. After discovering a pattern of violence, Hurley and Rapp join forces with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative who wants to start a global war.
The opening scene.
What. The. Fuck.
I’m torn between it being absolutely recklessly realistic and it being well, realistic. It definitely hooks you into the movie.
Even if I was slightly uncomfortable by that and what came after, it was interesting to see the terrorist cell stuff. If the entire movie had been about that, then, I’d complain but it was over fairly quickly. We moved onto the usual someone wants to build a nuclear weapon schtick blah, blah, blah and actually the movie sort of fell flat after that point.
The middle. Basically the CIA turn up and Rapp is trained into a super spy assassin kind of thing. His test scores are off the charts etc. Anyway, once we move off that we’re introduced to Ghost, a former protégé of Michael Keaton (who leads some kind of special ops team or something). Ghost has just obtained some plutonium for some Iranians.
Anyway, the action moves to Italy and we discover that Ghost is really angry at the US and Michael Keaton because he was left behind on the battlefield. Something about him not following orders.
After a gratuitous scene in which fingernails are extracted and an ear is bitten, it transpires that he has built a nuclear bomb in order to take out some kind of warship in the ocean. Ooookay.
Anyway, the build up to that scene was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. Rapp somehow finds a car underground, drives it through a tunnel in order to break open a gate. And the the car gets stuck and causes a huge fireball…. WHILE THE PLUTONIUM IS METRES AWAY. That entire building should have been toast. Anyway, somehow, they manage to switch between a housing project to the ocean in about two minutes.
It was very confusing.
Rapp and Ghost have this really odd fight on a boat. I could see that they repeat he same sequence a few times. The fight was also oddly anticlimactic. However, it was what came next that was really baffling. Rapp throws the nuclear bomb into the water and it goes off. Everyone should have been toast. Instead there was a huge water vortex that lasted for a minute and a helicopter was blown about until it wasn’t. Everyone lived! Except for Ghost.
The ending shows Rapp going after another Iranian who was also involved in the plutonium deal. I wonder why the director included that. Or the writer. It’s not like the sequel (if any) is going to pick up there. Minor issue, though.
The main issue with the movie is the lack of character progression. We know Rapp is messed up, but we don’t see it. It’s all tell, tell, tell with little showing. I personally would have made the whole terrorist cell thing a very minor backdrop and focused on seeing his life after his girlfriend died and in general after the attack (he was shot several times but made a full recovery!). Watching him punch someone excessively wasn’t enough. With regards to the villain – Ghost is just plonked in the movie and boom, this is the bad guy. It was, well, bad. The Turkish agent also had some stuff going on but by that point, the plot was so convoluted that when she killed herself I forgot that she even existed.
Anyway, Michael Keaton is always a delight. I don’t care that all he did was yell a lot. IT’S BATMAN! Sanaa Lathan did her best with the limited script. Dylan O’Brien is definitely one to watch. I thought he was really good, probably the best part of the movie even though he was limited by the unadventurous script. And I’m glad to see he’s doing okay after his accident on the Maze Runner set. Taylor Kitsch… well, at least he’s still getting work?
Verdict: 6/10. Entertaining but predictable. However, it wasn’t overly long or worse than your typical action movie. There are some really nice scenes in terms of the cinematography and fight/action scenes. Also – Dylan O’Brien isn’t hard on the peepers. 😝
I’m also going to check out the books as well now, so there’s that. Yes.
Thank you for reading!