Michael Cuesta’s American Assassin ticks all the boxes of a classic violent action/adventure movie. Dylan O’Brien stars as Mitch Rapp, a man hit by devastation, who vows to seek revenge upon a sect of radical Islamists. Upon colliding with the CIA, Rapp is recruited as a Black Ops agent in the fight to stop Islamic terrorists from launching a nuclear weapon in the Middle East. Rapp is trained in asymmetrical warfare by tough war veteran, Stan Hurley, which sees actor Michael Keaton, renowned for his role in Birdman (2014), grace our screens once again.
If you like the thrill of gory violence, then American Assassin will not disappoint. Cuesta does not hold back on the bloody realness of the events, with enough graphic imagery to make you squirm, flinch and grimace. Although not for the faint stomached, it is not an overwhelming amount of unnecessary gore. In fact, it adds to the thrill and excitement of the film.
Refreshing, the film features a female character who is not madly in love with the main character – kick-ass agent Annika, played by new actress Shiva Negar, is anything but a damsel-in-distress. Although her appearance on screen is not particularly long, she is a welcome twist on the classic spy movies where the girls are mainly objects of sex, *cough* James Bond *cough*.
Although a fast-paced, adrenaline inducing watch, Mitch Rapp is no Jason Bourne, nor 007. The electric plot of other spy thrillers is not matched by American Assassin, which admittedly at times was quite confusing. Yet, it does provoke intrigue into the franchise, which is based on Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name. O’Brien’s character is fascinating, with further development potentially seeing the rise of a new spy hero. If you’re in the mood for some fast-action, quite graphic yet enjoyable fun, then American Assassin is a movie to seriously consider.
Image: Gage Skidmore