Director: Michael Cuesta
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan
Release Date: December 5, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
American Assassin follows the rise of Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), a CIA black-ops recruit under the instruction of Cold War veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). The pair is then enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) to investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on both military and civilian targets. Together, the three discover a pattern in the violence, leading them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent (Shiva Negar) to stop a mysterious operative (Taylor Kitsch) intent on settling a personal and professional vendetta that could have cataclysmic results.
Based on the novel of the same name, ‘American Assassin’ explores the rise of Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) from the tragic event that would change his life forever and through his rocky and violent first steps to becoming somewhat of a modern legend. After being recruited to a select government team run by the infamous soldier Stan Hurley (Keaton) Mitch quickly tears his way through the training and elimination process and soon finds himself out in the field. Unwilling to play by the rules after their initial mission takes a bloody turn for the worst, Mitch quickly finds himself engulfed in a massive potential threat revolving around an adversary as deadly as himself that also appears to share a mysterious personal connection with Hurley. Now Mitch will have to determine the correct course of action himself regardless of the consequences if he hopes to stand any chance of eliminating this unknown threat before it’s too late.
Directed by Michael Cuesta (Roadie, Kill the Messenger) from a screenplay by Stephen Schiff (TV’s The Americans), Michael Finch (Predators), Edward Zwick (The Siege) and Marshall Herskovitz (Love & Other Drugs) which was based upon the novel of the same name written by Vince Flynn respectively, Cuesta does a great job at the helm of ‘American Assassin’ easily guiding this slick and tense action thriller throughout its violent course. The film also owes plenty of credit to the capable cast which is comprised of many relatively well known individuals and includes Dylan O’Brien (TV’s Teen Wolf), Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Sanaa Lathan (Blade), Taylor Kitsch (Savages), Shiva Negar (TV’s 24 Hour Rental), Scott Adkins (The Expendables 2) and more, the majority delivering sold performances in each of their respective roles; Dylan O’Brien in particular offering a wonderful performance in the lead and showcasing a true (and believable) talent for the action genre.
‘American Assassin’ is an action packed, energetic thriller overloaded with slick, bloody action sequences, intense chases across the globe and plenty more to please the action junkies out there; all executed with a swift and smooth style that should easily keep viewers consistently glued to the screen. Rarely offering a tame moment throughout, it constantly keeps thing massively entertaining and filled with believable villains, characters and events that keep the story feeling largely realistic, rarely requiring the viewer to suspend reality aside from in a few of the more outrageous action sequences which still certainly keep things far more down to earth than most action flicks these days. Capably guided around each sharp turn by director Michael Cuesta and his more than competent work in the director’s chair is further boosted by solid performances delivered by the majority of the cast which is led by Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton who work together remarkably well and don’t disappoint. I would definitely urge fans of the book series by Vince Flynn (which serves as its basis) and those who tend to enjoy a tense and hard hitting action thriller that stays largely grounded in reality to give ‘American Assassin’ a chance whenever you have the opportunity. It may not be the most outstanding action flick in recent memory but certainly doesn’t disappoint and should easily be worth a couple hours of your time.
Overall, ‘American Assassin’ is a stylish, fast-paced and explosive thriller filled with no shortage of hard hitting action sequences, wild chases and simplistic, bloody fun, all complimented by the capable guidance of director by Michael Cuesta and solid performances from the cast led by Michael Keaton and Dylan O’Brien that should effortlessly keep folks thoroughly entertained from start to finish. ‘American Assassin’ is definitely recommended, it’s an explosive, fast paced and wildly entertaining action thriller that albeit imperfect, rarely disappoints and delivers a great deal of fun throughout. It should easily be well worth coughing up a few bucks for the rental cost, especially for fans of Vince Flynn’s book series which serves as its inspiration and for fellow fans of hard hitting and explosive action thrillers firmly grounded in reality; this one should be right up your alley.
The Blu-ray release of ‘American Assassin’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a clean, sharp and detailed presentation from start to finish. It holds up impressively even during the numerous fast paced and darkly lit sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that should have no trouble pleasing the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack delivers a crisp, clean and wildly aggressive audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send a plethora of bullets, vehicle activity, explosions and much more regularly whipping throughout the various speakers, and never allowing any dialogue or other simultaneously occurring audio elements to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a magnificent Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that contributes a great deal of additional fun to the overall viewing experience and should thrill even the pickiest of audiophiles.
The Blu-ray release of ‘American Assassin’ includes some worthwhile extras that take you deeper into bringing the film to life. Included on the release is a collection of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that each include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Target Acquired: Creating an American Assassin’ (running approximately 10 minutes in length), ‘Finding Mitch Rapp: Dylan O’Brien’ (running approximately 10 minutes), ‘Transfer of Power: Hurley and Ghost’ (approximately 14 minutes), ‘Weaponized: Training and Stunts’ (12 minutes) and ‘In the Field: On Location’ (9 minutes). An ‘Alamo Drafthouse Q&A’ (approximately 26 minutes) is also included.