'American Assassin' delivers a 'James Bond' and 'Jason Bourne' mix

Updated: Jun 13, 2018

Courtesy Lionsgate Films

Brooke Nicholson | Arts & Entertainment Editor

"American Assassin" is an action-oriented, bad guys vs. good guys, R-rated spy movie that hit theaters on September 15th, based off of the 11th book in Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series, "American."

"American Assassin" takes a look at life through the main character, Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), who is driven with revenge and anger after his fiancée, of a mere five minutes, is shot and killed on their beach vacation from a random and deadly terrorist attack.

After the 10 minute exposition, we are shot 18 months in the future, where we see Mitch driven by anger, lust for revenge, and determination to kill the leader of the terrorist group responsible for his fiancée’s and many others’ death a year and a half ago. Once the CIA has figured out that Mitch has been talking to international terrorists, they raid the meeting with Mitch and the leader of the terrorist group, crushing Mitch’s chance of killing him himself.

After watching Mitch display his incredible self-taught knife, gun and MMA skills for months, the CIA decides to take him in, teach him the ropes, and get him in top-shape to become a fully engaged CIA agent. Mitch is introduced to a war Veteran and CIA operative, Stan, who trains him and others to give them all they need to be able to survive out on the field.

Mitch repeatedly disobeys orders from his superiors, after others are not able to complete some of the missions, and take matters into his own hands. Towards the end of the movie, we find out that a old-time student of Stan’s, Ghost, is leading a terrorist group to build a nuclear bomb, seeking revenge on what Stan and America itself has put him through, essentially, potentially starting global war.

Many reviews online have been plagued with every kind of opinion; from the movie being amazing and exciting, to down right stupid and overly-unoriginal. Within the first few minutes, we are a little bit taken aback but the abruptness the movie starts off with, but as soon as terrorists storm the beach, we instantly know the fiancée’s about to die. The audience could tell it was going to be one of those movies.

Unfortunately, the audience was only given, hardly, a few minutes of exposition and explaining of who these characters before they are immediately thrust into action. The lack of exposition and understanding of a few of the characters we are seeing in the beginning do not give us enough time to learn exactly who they are and have always been, but what they have become and who they are now. It doesn’t give us enough time to develop any character development, and, therefore, cannot fall completely in love with any character.

Of course, we feel sympathy for Mitch as soon as we learn that his fiancée has died, especially since they had just gotten engaged three minutes ago, but that’s about all we know.

Since there is a lack of character development from anyone the entire time, the movie is plagued with horrible cliques and predictability that the audience has no choice but to immediately go “I’ve seen and heard this story somewhere before”. The movie trots along fairly well with keeping up the action, but besides the abrupt start to the movie and the decent non-stop ending, the movie falls apart somewhere in between.

The actresses fall victim to cheesy one liners, too busy either emphasizing with the main characters, or are too busy dying. The script tries too hard to be “so serious it’s laughable”, and cliqued one liners writers love to put in every single action movie. Even Oscar nominee Michael Keaton, who plays Stan Hurley, Mitch’s trainer and mentor, is the only one holding up the cast, along with Dylan O’Brien. O’Brien is a strong enough actor to take up the movie on his own, but he definitely needed a supporting actor like Michael to help him up during the weak spots.

Overall, the movie tried its best to start up a new action-packed franchise besides "James Bond" and "Jason Bourne," but unfortunately stumbled somewhere along the way.