Forget Jason Bourne, there’s a new heartthrob action hero who’s taking down the bad guys around the world and his name is Mitch Rapp (played by Dylan O’Brien). The move “American Assassin,” based on the #1 New York Times bestseller of the same name, is a non-stop, action-driven, take-out-the-terrorists movie that doesn’t stop until the final credits. It’s easy to say that “American Assassin” will be a thrilling movie experience.
“American Assassin” features a super-assassin who’s young and lethal
The movie “American Assassin” has all the signs of being a major thriller-action franchise. The book series featured super-assassin Mitch Rapp in 16 different books, so you can pretty much bet that Hollywood has a good idea of what to do next. So think of this first film as an introduction to the youngest, hunkiest post-9/11 action hero that we’ve ever seen.
The core part of Mitch Rapp’s back story is that his beautiful girlfriend and fiancée (played by the incredibly lovely Charlotte Vega) has been gunned down in a terrorist incident at a beach resort in Tunisia, and now Mitch Rapp will stop at nothing to get his revenge on the Islamic terrorists. That includes becoming a lethal killing machine – he can handle a gun, of course. But he’s also trained in MMA and can handle throwing stars with the best of them. Just like Jason Bourne, he’s very much damaged – but at least he knows why. In a head-to-head cage match with Jason Bourne, Mitch Rapp would probably leave Matt Damon choking in the dust.
You see, Mitch Rapp doesn’t come with all the moral baggage of more traditional, pre-9/11 heroes. His job is to kill the bad guys, and he doesn’t really care how it’s done. That emphasis on the non-stop killing, while exciting for action fans (really, who doesn’t dream of massacring the terrorists?), has raised some questions in the liberal media, which has accused the filmmaker (Michael Cuesta) of taking an over-the-top “America first” approach to wiping out the bad guys.
But so be it. We’re in a new era now, and if the terrorists are going to be brutal and amoral when wiping out women and children in Paris, Brussels, and London, then they have it coming to them. And that revenge motif is something that the movie really delivers.
“American Assassin” is a global whirlwind that will leave you breathless
Just like in the “Bourne” film franchise, the action is a whirlwind of scenes, encounters and fight sequences all over the world. In the course of the film, we’re taken to destinations like Malta, Ibiza, Istanbul, Tripoli, Romania and Rome. And the action never lets up. You can be cynical and say that “American Assassin” is derivative in this regard, but you can’t ignore the fact that the scenes in places like Rome and Istanbul are just breathtaking.
“American Assassin” has a save-the-world plot you won’t believe
It seems like any great action film has to feature a rogue villain these days, and that’s exactly what “American Assassin” delivers. In this case, the rogue villain is “Ghost” (played by Taylor Kitsch) who may or may not have come up with a way to destroy the world. (Hint: it involves nukes)
At some point, in fact, this plotline might remind you of the last “Fast and the Furious” film, in which Vin Diesel briefly flirts with the idea of going over to the dark side to rescue his family. That film featured stunning CGI sequences of ships, nukes and cars. Who can forget the nuclear-armed submarine emerging from under the ice?
You could say that “American Assassin” goes one step further – it features the U.S. Navy, nukes, and a tsunami wave scene that has to be seen to be believed. This is a huge spectacle, and a save-the-world plot you won’t soon forget.
“American Assassin” oozes machismo and testosterone
Did we mention that Mitch Rapp loves to sneer at people, that he won’t listen to authority, and that he enjoys bad boy sports (like drag racing and parkour). Oh, and he can really handle a gun. Some movie critics have suggested that the young protagonist could be a way to hook female viewers on this film franchise – these viewers might not like all the corpses piling up in the movie, but boy oh boy, does that kid have swagger. (One of his throwaway lines is, “If you’re not busy living, you’re dying.”)
Perhaps the only person who can tame this super-smart, super-badass kid is the character of Stan Hurley, an ex-Navy SEAL instructor played by Michael Keaton. It seems like it’s been awhile since we’ve seen Keaton do any blockbuster summer action films (he’s been too busy doing Oscar fare like “Birdman” and “Spotlight”), but he simply excels as the crusty mentor who teaches Mitch Rapp how to channel some of his instincts and reactions.
In one scene – perhaps the highlight of the whole trailer that the studio released before the film – Keaton’s character challenges Mitch Rapp to a duel of sorts. “Kill me,” he challenges the young newcomer. Well, you can imagine the ending to that. Mitch Rapp might think he’s a badass, but he’s on his back within seconds. Before he’s been fully trained, he’s no match for Stan Hurley.
Despite all the machismo in the film, it should be pointed out that two excellent female actresses (Sanna Lathan and Shiva Negar) also appear in the film in strong supporting roles. Negar, for example, plays a deadly and intriguing Turkish agent, while Lathan plays a no-nonsense U.S. intelligence chief.
“American Assassin” lives up to its #1 bestseller origins
The first weekend box office numbers are almost in, and it looks like “American Assassin” is going to be a hit with U.S. movie audiences. Most likely, the film will be a hit with global audiences as well. So (dramatic pause) get ready for what comes next; the preparation for the sequel to “American Assassin.”
Now that Matt Damon has appeared in his final “Bourne” film, it’s time to anoint the next great American super-spy and his name is Dylan O’Brien. If you’re looking for a thrill-a-minute Hollywood film experience, then “American Assassin” will not disappoint. It’s thrilling, action-packed and filled with plenty of action scenes you’ll enjoy re-watching once this film becomes available for streaming.