Squandered potential.

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

The first in a long standing series of novels by the late Vince Flynn, that director Michael Cuesta - known more for his television works such as Homeland - brings the novel to life on the big screen.

Dylan O'Brien plays Mitch Rapp a normal guy with a pretty normal life, just enjoying a little sunshine on a beach in Spain with his future wife (Katrina played by Charlotte Vega) to be.

Too bad that those damn terrorists are going to make sure no fun is to be had on their watch, as they proceed to storm the holiday resort and shoot the place up, injuring Mitch and killing his fiancé in the process.

So whats a now grieving normal guy meant to do with his life? Well obviously learn martial arts, gun skills and become fluent in Arabic in under two years of course.

His plan to infiltrate and exterminate terrorist cells doesn’t go unnoticed mind you, with the CIA (Irene Kennedy played by Sanaa Lathan) keeping a close eye on their upstart Jason Bourne, eyeing his potential and even inducting him into a special training program helmed by ex-special forces member Stan (Michael Keaton).

American Assassin starts out interesting enough. Yeah, a man on a vendetta against bad guys with guns, going on a single-minded killing spree is the stuff of 80’s movies. From survivor's guilt to psychosis, there’s at least a modicum of interesting things trying to take form here - at least at the outset.

Unfortunately after a frenzied, cadaver-stabbing, that emotional revenge setup for a John Wick versus ISIS story is quickly put on the back burner, as American Assassin slides into your run-of-the-mill action movie with the studio clearly aiming to push the character as a franchise.

And it’s not a terribly bad one either, it may indeed be a little slow for most action fans but in that sense it feels like it's not only more grounded and brutal, but aims to be a bit more than your typical Jason Bourne or Jack Ryan outing. Though as mentioned I believe many explosion lovers out there will get a little antsy waiting for the next burst of action to arrive, or scoff at the attempted bungled romance subplot that seems to be there for the sake of it.

American Assassin - (Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Charlotte Vega, David Suchet and Shiva Negar)

The cast likewise are also well suited for their roles, with the lead Dylan O'Brien having slowly worked his way up from supporting roles to lead man, and here in American Assassin he doesn’t seem one bit out of place. Going through some recent troubles with a brain injury - acquired on the set of the latest Maze Runner film - you can see no noticeable drop in his performance, especially for a film as physically demanding as this one.

On the flipside you have a paint by numbers mentor - with Michael Keaton definitely stealing the show in a couple of scenes - and a bog-standard revenge villain played by the underrated Taylor Kitsch as Ghost. And that's the biggest problem with American Assassin really; it has all the potential and setup to be a far more interesting and better film than the action shell casing it's eventually squeezed within, creating a film instead that you'll feel you've seen many times before in different forms, and worst of all becoming wholly predictable.

Attempting to be something different, American Assassin sets up an interesting premise and relatable protagonist - due to trauma of his past - than most typical action roles.

But in setting that up, American Assassin showed it had the potential to be more, instead it devolves into a paint by numbers action flick that may satiate some fans looking for some high-octane yet sporadic action.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    13th September 2017

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Predictable

    Devolves into steretypical action flick

  • The set up

    Brutal action

    The cast

Film Info

American Assassin American Assassin
Rating: 18
Release Date: 14th September
Runtime: 1 hr 51 mins
Director: Michael Cuesta
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Charlotte Vega, David Suchet & Shiva Negar

  • Taken (series)
  • Jason Bourne (series)
  • Jack Ryan (series)

No, there's a lot of violent action, murder and torture.

The first in a series of currently 16 book titles, with the latest three authored by Kyle Mills due to Vince Flynn's passing.

The lead role was offered to Chris Hemsworth but he passed on the role due to scheduling issues.

The book series to date has currently sold nearly 20 million copies.

In the books, Mitch Rapp's girlfriend was killed in the Pan Am flight that was blown up by a terrorist over Lockerbie Scotland. The movie instead shows her dying on a Spanish beach.