Action movies are never my first pick at the theater. Being 100% honest, I mainly went to see American Assassin because Dylan O’Brien was in it. That being said, I’m not going to judge the movie based off my love of O’Brien.
If you’ve been in a hole and haven’t seen the trailer for the movie or read the books, O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp. While on vacation with his girlfriend, a terrorist attack happens on the beach and Rapp’s girlfriend is a fatality. Seeking vengeance, Rapp goes into training mode learning hand-to-hand combat and frequently visiting shooting ranges. Meanwhile, the CIA has been watching Rapp’s every move. This eventually leads to Rapp joining a black operations called Orion. Former U.S. Navy seal, Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), is ordered to train Rapp.
This was an incredible action movie. There were torturing moments that made me cringe. The visual effects for the big explosion scene was amazing. An early scene where the Orion operatives are practicing killing targets with high-tech simulation equipment seemed so real. When the operatives got shot or shot at the wrong person, the equipment gives them a shock. Obviously, the actors weren’t really electricuted, but they make you believe they are experiencing electricity pulsating through their bodies.
The only real downside to the movie was the villain. Taylor Kitsch plays Ronnie also known as “Ghost.” A former Orion operative gone rogue, Ronnie becomes Rapp and Hurley’s new mission. Some backstory on Ronnie is revealed as to why he is the antagonist in Mitch Rapp’s story, but a little more would have helped. It’s understood that Ronnie is jaded because Hurley was like a father to him. He was let down when a mission went wrong and got left behind. With how things were explained, it felt like Ronnie shouldn’t have been mad. Hurley makes it obvious through the whole film that if you’re on a mission and get taken, you’re a lost cause, a “ghost.” Ronnie felt that he was closer to Hurley than the other operatives, so Hurley should have come back for him.
The other possible downside is only if you don’t like cliché’s. The storyline of a man, whose girlfriend is killed by terrorist and seeks revenge, not caring if he gets killed or doesn’t follow orders is a bit predictable. Nevertheless, this slightly obvious storyline is done well by the author, Vince Flynn, and executed beautifully on screen. Personally, I always like a good cliché. So I had no problem with this. Also, I was very happy there was no romance between Rapp and female agent, Annika (Shiva Negar). There was a moment where I thought something was brewing between the two, but that was quickly proven wrong in the following scene.
Not necessarily to do with the movie, but I could live without O’Brien’s lumberjack beard. Granted, it does add to Mitch Rapp’s character. It gives the appearance Rapp has been a hermit, cooped up in his apartment with nothing on his mind but vengeance. Originally, Rapp wasn’t supposed to have a beard, but O’Brien had been growing it out and asked if he could keep it for his character.
For those of you who have read Vince Flynn’s bestselling novel, I haven’t read it. So I can’t tell you if the movie truly did the book justice. Of course, there are probably a few details the movie left out. It happens with all book to movie productions. There just isn’t enough time for every detail in the book to be in the movie. There’s only 111 minutes to tell the story.
With a film adaptation, it isn’t guaranteed that the movie will be as good as the book. There’s always hesitation if the actor can do the character right. But Dylan O’Brien is Mitch Rapp. Watching O’Brien on the big screen, you don’t think this is the kid from Teen Wolf or The Maze Runner. O’Brien truly makes this character his own. He gives a realistic portrayal of an everyday college student, who has gone through a traumatic experience and wants revenge. Throughout the movie, O’Brien does a great job executing Rapp’s anger and aggressive nature. A few times, Rapp takes his training too far and can’t stop himself from losing control and violently injuring his opponents. This seems to be both a strength and weakness for Rapp. O’Brien eloquently executes a lot of his own stunts, and shows just how badass Mitch Rapp is.
The production company hopes that American Assassin does well enough in the box office to continue with the next books in the series. O’Brien has already promised if there’s another film, he will reprise his role as Mitch Rapp. If that happens, the movie was so good, I’ll be sure to read the book before the next one. The movie doesn’t end on a cliff hanger, but with the man behind Rapp’s girlfriend’s murder still out there, it leaves room for more movies. American Assassin is definitely a movie you’ll want to see in theaters with a large bucket of overpriced popcorn.