American Assassin movie review: Keaton and O'Brien will kill you with cliches
If you're short on sleep and need a decent nap, look no further than American Assassin. The action-thriller starring Michael Keaton and Dylan O'Brien is so steeped in played out tropes that it could actually put you to sleep. Packed to the rafters with everything you've seen done before (and done better), the movie ends up being low on thrills even if it's high on action.
Based on the series of novels by Vince Flynn, American Assassin sets out to build Mitch Rapp into a franchise character a la Jason Bourne. However, for this, the movie needs to make audiences care about Rapp. This doesn't happen. O'Brien's Rapp is neither likeable nor is he truly special in anyway.
The movie flubs the one chance it had to build the character up – his transformation after the terrorist attack. Had the movie focused on just this, it could have set up a franchise that truly had legs on it. Instead, it glosses over this pivotal period, forcing a fully developed revenge machine down audience throats with no effort to make us care.
In fact, if the movie's plot had only extended as far as Rapp's infiltration of the terrorists, this movie would have been extremely interesting. Instead, all of this was done and dusted inside of fifteen minutes, with a thoroughly stale plot unfolding for the remainder of the movie.
Keaton, who is probably the best part of the movie, is still far from great due to his extremely cliched and one-dimensional character. His character, the tough taskmaster with a soft side for his students, is one that we've seen a million times before. For Keaton to make it work, therefore, he needed to add something new. He doesn't. That he's still the best thing about the movie then, tells you all you need to know about the performances in general.
Should you see it?
Probably not. The movie has nothing special going for it. The plot is predictable, the action mediocre, the acting is average, and the climax is weak. Despite this, the movie looks set for a sequel. So, if you want to buy into a failing franchise that you can hate yourself for later, here's your chance.