WEEKEND WEB – FILM REVIEW: Dated vigilante thriller misses the mark
AMERICAN ASSASSIN (18)
CAST: DYLAN O’BRIEN, MICHAEL KEATON, TAYLOR KITSCH, SANAA LATHAN, SCOTT ADKINS, SHIVA NEGAR & DAVID SUCHET
RUNNING TIME: 1 Hr 52 Mins
DIRECTOR: MICHAEL CUESTA
You know the how the saying goes? They don’t make them like they used to? Well in this case that’s not necessarily a good thing.
This violent thriller harks back to action flicks of both the eighties and nineties - but it was probably not its intention to be such a stereotypical imitation.
It has a very topical – and somewhat (as much as it can be) emotional – opening that sees Dylan O’Brien’s (The Maze Runner) Mitch Rapp and his fiancée caught up in a beach terror shootout (much like notable events in the likes of Tunisia), which initially hints at something that could be quite intriguing.
In the aftermath of the event we see Rapp go rogue to bring vengeance on these jihadists after a year of training himself in shooting galleries, MMA and all things Arabic to bring him close to his terror cell target.
But he has actually been tracked himself by the CIA – or more specifically an unofficial special ops division led by Sanaa Lathan’s (Alien v Predator) Irene Kennedy and trained by Michael Keaton’s (Oscar nominee for Birdman) grizzled Cold War vet Stan Hurley – who want to utilise him for their own means.
So after genuinely offering up some interesting ideas in the opening 15 minutes it then painfully descends into paint-by-numbers old school ‘under the radar’ hitman territory that provides nothing new whatsoever, just a fairly bland hunting down of a mysterious operative known as ‘Ghost’ (Lone Survivor’s Taylor Kitsch), who is seemingly intent on starting another war in the Middle East after numerous random attacks all to find the ingredients for a nuclear device.
O’Brien proves to be a fairly amiable lead – after doing well to come back from serious injuries that has delayed the third Maze Runner film The Death Cure – and is at least ably supported by the always reliable Keaton, and that at least makes it generally watchable throughout.
But despite a fairly smart ending, this will exit the cross-hairs of your memory as soon as the leave the cinema, which is a bit of shame as it shows pockets of modern day ingenuity and John Wick-stylised action – but sadly dominated by a story that was so 20 years ago.
This was potentially intended as a new franchise, but after this misses the target don’t hold your breathe – as this assassin provides a bullet graze to the arm more than a clean headshot.