Reel Shorts | American Assassin

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

Mitch Rapp has grieving issues among other things in American Assassin.

Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) has it all, a good job, his favorite swim shorts and he just got engaged to his girlfriend, Katrina (Charlotte Vega). Unfortunately, terrorists storm the beach. Mitch gets shot and Katrina gets killed. Racked with grief, Rapp goes undercover with the intention of taking out the terror cell responsible for the shooting.

As he infiltrates a cell, the CIA intervenes, swoops up Rapp and places him in a super secret assassin training program. The program is run by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), one bad mother who has a reputation for being the end-all in counter-terrorism. Training comes to an abrupt end as Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), a former trainee of Hurley, has gone off the program and has become a threat. Under the threat of a nuclear attack, Rapp and Hurley must figure out how to work together and save the day.

American Assassin is based on the novel of the same name by Vince Flynn.  The eleventh book written by Flynn but the first in chronological order of the best selling Mitch Flynn series, the film takes some liberties but stays very close to the story relayed in the book.

The main characteristic of Mitch Rapp in the books is his inability to stand with red tape, rules, and regulations. This movie is no different. However, because the way the story is told, Rapp comes across as petulant and impulsive. However, it is fun to see him disobey and do things his own way.

American Assassin is a high-speed action thriller. Director Michael Cuesta crafts a well-paced feature with very little lag time to lose interest. O’Brien does a good job playing the up and coming spy/assassin. Sanaa Lathan is tasteless as Deputy Director Irene Kennedy and Michael Keaton is deliciously over the top as Hurley.

Rated R for strong violence throughout, some torture, language and brief nudity, American Assassin seems familiar. A combination of Jason Bourne and other spy thrillers, American Assassin is not overly inventive but is decently entertaining. It serves as a good introductory vehicle for a mildly promising series.

Grade: C+