American Assassin

Review: ‘American Assassin’ (Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton)

I’m writing this in a haphazard fashion, so forgive the random stream of consciousness as I was just thinking about Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a flick I definitely want to see. This relates to the salmon aside I’ll mention later in the review, but for now let’s concentrate on American Assassin. Review is below and sorry for the lateness!

Dylan O'Brien - American Assassin
“American Assassin” – CBS Films. Photo credit: Christian Black

Having not seen Teen Wolf or the first two Maze Runner flicks, my knowledge of Dylan O’Brien’s work is limited. He does a solid job with American Assassin as CIA black ops recruit Mitch Rapp, a vengeful guy who’s sole goal in life is to take out as many terrorists as possible. The killing of his fiancee leads Rapp into this seeming black hole of vengeance, and his pure fire and skill set leads CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) to recruit him.

Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) is the military vet enlisted to turn the diamond in the rough Rapp into a more focused agent, and the scenes between Hurley and Rapp are the flick’s strongest assets. The first act, in which we are given a look into Rapp’s obsessive quest for retribution as well as his friction with Hurley, are well executed, believable, and entertaining. These initial chapters also introduce us to Rapp and Hurley’s antagonist Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), an ex-agent who has his own vendetta (his beef is with the U.S. government and Hurley!).

With these ingredients, American Assassin should have been an ultimate pleasure to watch, but unfortunately the rest of the film is a by the numbers execution of the storyline. Once the plan is set in motion to take down Ghost, everything unfolds into a predictable fashion. Director Michael Cuesta (CinemAddicts co-host Anderson Cowan loves Cuesta’s flick L.I.E.) does a solid enough job at delivering a creditable enough piece of entertainment, but by the film’s final moments I was left wanting a bit more.

American Assassin
Dylan O’Brien and Shiva Negar in AMERICAN ASSASSIN to be released by CBS Films and Lionsgate. Ph: Christian Black

The climax, in which Rapp and Ghost have a showdown that could go absolutely nuclear, is a sequence that’s suited for a big budget action tentpole movie and it absolutely feels out of place. Co-stars Lathan, Shiva Negar and action Scott Adkins are also given paper thin characters that, though serving the story, doesn’t provide much depth to the proceedings.

Even with the aforementioned critiques, American Assassin is still worth a look if you’re a fan of the agent thriller genre, and Dylan O’Brien proves he’s a potential A-list star in the making (he has the leading man charisma that many of his generation don’t possess). Michael Keaton, as always, is also good in the film, and his confrontation with Taylor Kitsch actually reminded me of his work in Beetlejuice (if you check out the movie you’ll know what I mean).

American Assassin - Michael Keaton
Michael Keaton in ASSASSIN to be released by CBS Films and Lionsgate.Photo: ChristianBlack

American Assassin could have been so much more, but this film is inspiring me to at least take a look at The Maze Runner films. Catch this movie on Blu-ray, streaming, or as a bargain matinee ticket purchase, but don’t go full freight on this one!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Salmon Aside

****As many of you CinemAddicts listeners know, Anderson Cowan and my movie viewing schedule has dipped with the blessings of taking care of babies (his son, my niece). I rarely go out for screenings anymore, and actually the most memorable part of my American Assassin screening was this pan-seared Salmon from Caulfield’s Bar and Dining Room:

Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room
Pan Seared Salmon at Caulfield’s Bar and Dining Room.

Located on Wilshire Blvd. and Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills, Caulfield’s Bar & Dining Room is my go-to spot whenever there’s a screening at the Real D Screening Room. Don’t let the fancy schmancy locale fool you, as Caulfield’s is a welcoming bar to even stragglers like me (the salmon plate is $28, but it was worth breaking my piggy bank for a good meal). One of the bartenders and I went at length at the wonders of Koreatown (Los Angeles’ most underrated neighborhood), so the convo and the food were top notch.

I know all of this is a bit inside baseball, but if you’re ever in Beverly Hills or some cash to burn, check out Caulfield’s and see if there’s a screening going on at Real D. Since I’m a full time nanny these days, I rarely leave the house, and since I’ll never go salmon fishing in the Yemen, Caulfield’s will do.

(heads up this is not a sponsored post!!)

To listen to our September episode of CinemAddicts (which features a quick discussion of American Assassin), listen below:

****Also feel free to use the comment section below (or email me at editor@deepestdream.com) for any questions, comments, etc!!

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