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American Assassin Review


Some would say Michael Keaton is on a roll of late, after his career was resurrected with his role in the award-winning Birdman, but when it comes to American Assassin, the roll comes to a dramatic halt. American Assassin was a film that seemed like it had a lot of great ideas behind it, but were just poorly executed. I hope this doesn’t have a negative effect on the lead actor, Dylan O’Brien, as I don’t think he is a particularly bad actor, but a film like this can ruin an up-and-coming actor’s career quite quickly. This is sort of the case with the actor who played Dylan’s counterpart in the film, Taylor Klitch, who has had a tough road redeeming himself after John Carter, and this movie won't really do him any favours with that.

Dylan O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a young lad who is hellbent on revenge due to seeing his very recent fiance shot down in cold blood on a holiday they were on together. Rapp trains himself to become the ultimate assassin so that he can hunt down the terrorist group responsible for the death of his lover. With the CIA keeping a close eye on Mitch, he is dragged into their affairs, and trained by a top CIA assassin named Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton. Keaton is a phenomenal actor, we all know this, but for some reason, he just threw all that talent out the window when it came to this role. Hurley was meant to be this fearless and cold assassin, but it just came across really false.

With Mitch now firmly a part of the CIA, he and Hurley are sent on a mission to prevent a nuclear bomb being created by a terrorist organisation, who are being aided by Taylor Klitch’s character Ghost. Ghost was once apart of the CIA Assassin program, but went rogue due to reasons that, to be honest, aren’t massively clear in the film. This was really the theme of the picture; a lot of unclear reasons. Everything was very on-the-surface, there was just no depth in any part of the film. I feel the movie was just trying to be cool, very similar to the Bourne films, but just nowhere near as well thought out. In my opinion, the thing that proves this point the most, is the fact I struggled to remember the names of any of the characters, especially the female support, played by Shiva Negar, as they just didn’t seem to care about any kind of depth.

Was the film all bad? No. There were some bright sparks to this very bland movie. The action was intense at points, and quite well choreographed. I am a big gore fan, and this film did not hold back, making it very entertaining on that front. The intro to the movie may have been done in a way that could rub people up the wrong way, but I think it was done thoughtfully. I also think that Dylan O’Brien, if directed correctly, could be a decent actor.

The score was composed by Steven Price, who is probably best known for his work on Gravity. Personally I don’t have much of an opinion when it comes to Price’s work, and sadly I still don’t. He just creates mood setting music, and doesn’t really take any risks. Price certainly won’t be up for Composer of the Month during our “What’s HOT” segment on The Backseat Directors podcast!

American Assassin is, sadly, a film I think many of you can wait to see upon DVD release. There is certainly no rush to see this film in the theatres and, to be honest, it will only add to the disappointment of the movie if you do decide to take time out of your day and go. I didn’t have high hopes when going in to see this film, but being a fan of Keaton, I remained positive, but not even he could save this movie.

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