Cinematic Releases: American Assassin (2017) Reviewed

With the '80s long behind us and our genre legends gaining in age, it's time that someone new takes up the challenge. Featuring Dylan O'Brien (the star of The Maze Runner movies), Taylor Kitsch (star of megaflops Battleship and John Carter) and Michael Keaton, the Vince Flynn character gets an origin story.  

In a movie that makes sure to check all the boxes in routine fashion, American Assassin is a pure lesson in domesticated action that lacks the soul or prowess to maintain a simple or congruent plot line. Going against the grain is sometimes a hard path, but this latest franchise launch is nearly barren. Resting on standard plot development and a story that feels like Tom Clancy lite, I never felt involved in this beginning chapter of the Mitch Rapp series. 

Like a mundane twist on the Bourne saga or a visually empty entry in any one of the numerous films about highly trained military personnel that we've seen the past decade, this action flick treads too lightly while never getting gritty enough. There are a few scenes of torture that might cause knots in your stomach, but other than that, American Assassin is mostly boring.Casting soulless actors as the two main leads casts doubt from the opening moments as Michael Keaton tries to rise above this hampered attempt at creating a hero for a new generation. Sadly, it just doesn't work. He's great here. They aren't. 

You took my sandwich. Prepare to die. 

Armed to the gills with the standard tropes that beleaguer these types of politically charged 'rah rah' Americanized gun toting propaganda pieces, American Assassin has only a few minutes of fun that's offset by one of the most brain dead conclusions ever put to film. Those that had a problem with the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will shake their head in disbelief as nuclear arms are tossed around like nothing and the incoming fallout has nearly no effect whatsoever. American Assassin is purebred hype that's been marketed as the second coming of the action hero. Without the hyper talent of Keaton to bear the weight of two hackneyed, ill advised casting choices, this big budget feature would be a lesson in pure methodical boredom. 

Kicking off with a scene that will definitely tug at the heartstrings, our lead actor Dylan O'Brien simply does not have the chops to carry a role that should have gone to a more developed actor with a believable skill set. Partnered with the pretty but unavoidably annoying Taylor Kitsch (who can't stay in character or maintain his Southern drawl), American Assassin is a dire misfire in a time when we really need a great new action icon. 

If suspension of disbelief is your thing, you might enjoy this. However, this is toted as a realistic gun play thriller. It isn't