Main cast: Dylan O’Brien (Mitch Rapp), Michael Keaton (Stan Hurley), Sanaa Lathan (Deputy Director Irene Kennedy), Taylor Kitsch (Ghost), David Suchet (Director Thomas Stansfield), Shiva Negar (Annika), Navid Negahban (Behurz), Scott Adkins (Victor), Charlotte Vega (Katrina Harper), and Mohammad Bakri (Ashani)
Director: Michael Cuesta
Let’s get to the most important thing first: Dylan O’Brien has hit the gym and shows off his body quite a bit here, including a scene where he slowly walks out from the sea, all dripping wet. If you like seeing a bare, moderately hairy chest and a nice treasure trail, then American Assassin is for you. Sorry though if you prefer eye candy of the other persuasion: the only lady in a bikini dies shortly after the movie begins, and the closest you will ever get to pervy nation is Shiva Nagar in a top. This is the current year, baby – sexualizing women is so out, but sexualizing men is the true form of female empowerment, so it’s a wonderful world we live in.
I’m surprised this movie comes out at this time, to be honest, considering how irrationally left-leaning Hollywood is these days, as all these white pampered celebrities scream at everyone else from behind their gated communities that we are all living our lives wrong. You see, the bad guys here include Middle-Eastern terrorists doing that bomb-bomb thing in the name of Islam. In a time when people in the American mainstream media would scream that you are Islamophobic, racist, sexist, and whatever -ist for even daring to point out that the majority of acts of terrorism these days are committed in the name of Islam, this movie is pretty much sacrilegious to both the Hollywood and American mainstream media narratives.
The star of the show is Mitch Rapp, who sees his girlfriend and fiancée of, oh, fifteen minutes getting gunned down by Islamist jihadis while they are vacationing in a Spanish beachside resort. Oops. Cut to some time later, when this ordinary kid somehow manages to locate and infiltrate the cell that committed the shooting. I have no idea how he managed to support himself and even stay in Europe when he’s American – maybe he offers free drugs and sexual favors to the locals – but to enjoy this movie, one needs to accept a few basic premises.
One, this ordinary person can somehow develop the skills to locate and infiltrate a cell that eluded the CIA all this while.
Two, the CIA lady Irene Kennedy is so impressed that Mitch somehow manages to do all that super marksman and kung fu thing that she sends him to train with Stan Hurley, and outshines actual cops, soldiers, et cetera who train alongside him. For the rest of the movie, he continues to upstage and outperform people who have trained long and hard before him, including Stan’s former prize student turned final boss Ghost.
Three, Mitch cannot and refuses to follow orders, often running off in the middle of a mission because he thinks he knows best. And in the end, he’d be rewarded for this – it turns out that he’s right all along! Who cares about protocols and rules? Our hero is too cool for that! He’d break every rule and endanger his team mates, but that’s okay, in the end he’s the ultimate hero.
Four, this movie pays lip service about how Mitch needs to keep things impersonal, stop focusing on revenge, blah blah blah, but by the time the credit rolls, even Stan has embraced the “be very personal, screw the rules, just do whatever you want because you’re the hero, and revenge is best” philosophy. Initially, there is a possibility that Ghost is the reckless, hotheaded, and stubborn idiot Mitch gone off the deep end, but this is abandoned as Mitch is allowed to embrace his inner Leeroy Jenkins and is celebrated for it.
If you can accept all these nonsensical and illogical elements, then you will get a predictable, by the numbers movie with the usual explosions and stuff. It’s all competently put together, albeit in an increasingly cartoon-like manner as Mitch becomes increasingly superhuman in his abilities to surpass everyone and anyone, so it’s an okay watch. Just don’t expect anything more, focus on the hero’s biceps and not his haircut, and things would be alright.