AMERICAN ASSASSIN | REVIEW

I love my Dyl Dyl – no shame – I have followed Dylan O’Brien as an avid fanatic of for years. His quick witted body acting and comic timing is one of the winning factors of the show. His developing looks and onscreen charisma is something that has driven fans crazy during the shows seven year run. Of all the cast members to transfer from small to large screen O’Brien was a given. You can see it in his acting ability – this a guy who has the DiCaprio determination to go above and beyond for roles. Seeing the first trailer for AMERICAN ASSASSIN made me squeal – could O’Brien transfer from geeky sidekick to full blown hero?

AMERICAN ASSASSIN is out now from Roadshow, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 111mins.

 

American Assassin Dylan O'Brien image
Dylan O’Brien

 

BY

AMERICAN ASSASSIN SYNOPSIS

AMERICAN ASSASSIN is one of fifteen novels by set in the world of counter-terrorism operative . Every single one has been a New York Times best-seller, the three most recent entries have been number one New York Times best-sellers, and the series has sold over 20 million copies.

It was a given Mitch Rapp would make the big screen. AMERICAN ASSASSIN is actually the 11th book in the series, it is the prequel that explains how he came into being who he is. While 11th published it is 1st chronologically. This gave a much better opportunity for O’Brien – if the kicks off chronologically then he can develop into the older Rapp, should the series succeed.

The story starts with Rapp proposing to his girlfriend while swimming on a beach at a holiday resort. He goes to get celebratory drinks and while at the bar terrorists open fire killing a lot of people on the beach. Rapp’s girlfriend is shot in front of him and Rapp himself takes a few bullets. He is emotionally destroyed and makes it his life mission to kill as many terrorists as he can and so trains himself in all forms of combat. A CIA black ops wing is monitoring him and when he is nearly killed trying to take out a terrorist cell they recruit him into the fold to train as an American Assassin.

 

American Assassin Michael Keaton image

 

COOL STUFF AND NOT SO COOL STUFF:

AMERICAN ASSASSIN isn’t anything entirely new. It is Bourne but not as good, a little Bond but not as good, a bit of Jack Reacher and probably as good if not better but it has a lot of potential. This movie is definitely hoping for a sequel or many and it can work but it won’t work like the Bourne franchise. This is a film for fans of the genre, the books and the biggest drawcard, Dylan O’Brien. His following is phenomenal – he is a Tumblr and FB fan page hero with a swarm of fans bordering on 1D (of old) status. O’Brien, like 1D is trying to break that and be credible for more than looks.

AMERICAN ASSASSIN has some superb action sequences and the last thirty minutes is kept out of the trailers – I was not expecting that and I loved it. The opening is heavy and it is done really well and lots of the action sequences will keep action fans aroused. The struggle is Rapp’s complete lack of emotion, it creeps out a little but as the character is flat most of the time it will disappoint some people who will be expecting O’Brien’s bubbly Teen Wolf persona – it pops out for one scene about thirty minutes in but that scene just doesn’t sit with the tone of the film.

What does work is the chemistry between O’Brien’s Rapp and Keaton’s Hurley – the mentor/ handler and assassin pairing is fantastic and Keaton brings up the emotion lacking from O’Brien. There is one scene with Keaton that unleashes the full blown insane inner Keaton we all know and love. I clapped in the cinema – it is genius full-blown Beetlejuice Keaton and you will pick the exact scene when you see it.

CINEMATOGRPAHY:

The camera work is mostly good but some of the scenes are shot way too close. The first interview with Rapp and Kennedy is clearly shot without the other actor present and it was a horrible scene. But the colour grading and contrast of the film is superb and I was astounded at some of the fight scenes – the Bourne franchise will approve.

 

American Assassin Dylan O'Brien image
Dylan O’Brien

 

MICHAEL CUESTA:

I can see director, Michael Cuesta’s, appeal in hiring O’Brien for this but for the director of two of my all time favourite art-house films, L.I.E. and 12 AND HOLDING, I expected more. This is a studio movie, something that couldn’t be further from Cuesta’s resume. You may know him more from his TV work directing episodes of 6FT UNDER, DEXTER, HOMELAND and more recently ELEMENTARY. If you haven’t seen 12 AND HOLDING – hunt it down – it’s one of my all time favourite movies.

THE ASSASSINS:

The lead actors were not necessarily written well but definitely cast well. I am totally biased towards to O’Brien, I truly believe this guy has the determination to go all the way in the industry. The role was originally offered to Chris Hemsworth who declined due to scheduling and then they weren’t sure if they would do the origin story first so Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Matthew Fox were all considered for Rapp. O’Brien won out. His level of determination for the character saw him bulk into a muscle machine – not something fans would recognise from his Teen Wolf character.

Keaton won out over Bruce Willis for the role of mentor, trainer and handler. This was an ideal choice – Keaton is perfect as the older warrior. Shiva Nagar was decent as Annika but she was used more as a distraction and potential love interest for O’Brien. Her character had some unanswered plot holes that weren’t answered and will piss some people off. Sanaa Lathan as Kennedy was a 2D cliche and basically useless character and I wanted more of as The Ghost – I always want more of – have you seen him? #shameless.

 

American Assassin Taylor Kitsch image
Taylor Kitsch

 

IN CONCLUSION:

AMERICAN ASSASSIN will appeal to lovers of the action genre and lovers of Dylan O’Brien. It’s B-Grade Bourne but the movie has my interest piqued to firstly read the books and then see what they can do with them if sequels get made.

 

 

 

YOUR CRITIC:

 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.