Verdict: Dylan O'Brien and Michael Keaton make a lethal combo.
It's been a while since we saw a good CIA movie. American Assassin is here to fill that void. The latest addition to Hollywood's growing list of CIA agents brought to screen from books is Mitch Rapp (Dylan O'Brien). He might be new, but he would be an equal match to Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher in a fight. Much like the best assassins, he has a singular purpose in life – to kill those who deserve to be killed.
After the death of his girlfriend, Rapp loses interest in anything except acquiring the skills to infiltrate terrorists and take them out. This doesn't escape the notice of government agencies. CIA's counter-terrorism director Irene Kennedy's (played by Sanaa Lathan) talent hunt for the best vigilante warrior leads her straight to Rapp who has accomplished far more than any of their current agents. Sure he can be a little unrestrained but that's where Stan Hurley comes in.
Michael Keaton's Stan Hurley is ruthless in the best way. An ex-Navy veteran, he's in charge of a secret team, Orion, that carries out assassination operations. He takes on the role of a mentor with no soft spots. And Irene's instincts prove right – Hurley and Rapp make a great team. They team up with Annika (Shiva Negar), who has an unknown past, to save the world from destruction.
Dylan O'Brien's most memorable roles so far have been on Teen Wolf and in The Maze Runner. But with playing Mitch Rapp in American Assassin, he has transitioned into a lead action hero. He manages to hold his own even when up against Michael Keaton – both as a character and as an actor.
Taylor Kitsch plays a disgruntled Ghost who used to be under Hurley's wing. Now on the other side, he plays a capable enemy who is always one step ahead of them.
Rather than relying on fancy gadgets (though technology is sufficiently used), American Assassin relies on skilled combat for action. It treads on familiar ground but paves its own path. The strongest part of American Assassin is certainly the performances by the actors. Whether they're grieving, killing, torturing or being tortured, they bring depth to their characters. It all ends with a strong, high-stakes ending which will make your heart thump.
Michael Cuesta has done a satisfactory job of bringing Vince Flynn's novel to the screen. It has the makings of a franchise but whether or not it will turn into one remains to be seen. On its own, it's an action-fueled ride that gives you exactly what it promises.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
If you're looking for some action which will give you a bang for your buck, this is it. Much like the main character, it doesn't lose its focus – it's serious, gritty, and gratifyingly violent.