This movie, without a doubt, was one of the best action movies I have seen in a long time. As a long-time fan of the late Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series, I was extremely nervous to watch American Assassin. The casting of Dylan O’Brien quite literally took me by surprise, and was truthfully my greatest worry. The idea of an origin story for Mitch Rapp that was heavily altered from the source material was nerve-racking as well, but director Michael Cuesta did a fantastic job of doing justice for the CIA operative. First, let’s talk about the cast and their performance.
Like I said, I was nervous about Dylan O’Brien portraying my favorite action character. Anyone familiar with the Mitch Rapp novels knows that the character is huge, like insanely huge. Flynn once described him as being extremely awkward-looking as he sat in front of a computer, and that is not O’Brien. With that said, O’Brien gave a stellar performance, and left me wanting so much more. The film was great, and unlike many movies today, didn’t end on a cliffhanger; something Flynn’s novels never did. Although he is not the intimidating character I know from the books, if I ever came face to face with this iteration of Mitch Rapp, I would be absolutely terrified. O’Brien truly held his own in each and every fight sequence, even if his opponent bested him.
Stan Hurley leaped off the pages of the American Assassin novel as he trained the Orion Group. Michael Keaton’s performance was amazing as he showed Hurley’s dislike of Rapp throughout his training. The stubborn old man I knew and loved was right there in the movie, jumping right into the action as soon as he absolutely could. Simply amazing. Everything from Keaton’s attitude to the delivery of his lines and ending with his action-filled scenes was one of the greatest things I have seen from him.
Meanwhile, Sanaa Lathan’s take of Irene Kennedy was just as good as O’Brien’s and Keaton’s. She played the calm, collected, stubborn, and level-headed woman that crafted Rapp from a lacrosse player in the novels to the greatest CIA operative of any fictitious book series there is. I am extremely excited to watch all three return to their respective roles in a sequel, and hopefully that will be very very soon.
The relationship between the three characters is everything I wanted it to be and more. I expected nothing even remotely close to what these three gave the audience. Although much is still left to be explored between the three, this was plenty already. The way Hurley interacts with the little girl he watched grow up into the woman that becomes his boss is great. To be honest, it’s almost exactly how a stubborn old father would interact with his daughter when she takes over his business; arguing yet respecting her authority.
As for Mitch and Stan, oh my golly gee. Like I said, it was everything I wanted. The chemistry between O’Brien and Keaton is amazing; almost like they truly do have a love-hate relationship. The brutality and similarity of both drives them apart, yet brings them together. Although they always say it isn’t personal, the depiction of the care they have for one another says otherwise. Overall, this was a great cast with beyond stellar talents that most definitely need to return for a second movie (hopefully Kill Shot, but I would be okay with Transfer of Power, too).
The plot was just as good as the acting. It didn’t feel too rushed, yet packed a whole lot into one hour and forty-three minutes. The way the overall plot was trickled in slowly throughout the beginnings as the film focused on Mitch and his training was something I have rarely ever seen in an origins film. That ability seems to be a talent very few directors have, and Cuesta truly has a gift for it. The action scenes left nothing to the imagination as each and every punch was grounded in reality. The stakes were extremely high, yet each and every detail would be extremely plausible in today’s climate.
I had two issues with the movie; one or two of the lines, and the decisions to change the time period in which Mitch Rapp first starts as an operative. I say the lines because some felt slightly awkward, as Mitch sort of brought humor to bad situations. As for the time period change, I personally feel as if setting the movie in the 1990s would have shown just how effective Rapp is as an operative without all the technology as other gizmos. The augmented reality and instant repercussions are awesome tools in the training, however, I feel like it is extremely vital to Rapp’s story that he does not understand technology too well. Allowing Rapp to know how to use computers very well eliminates the chance to bring in an extra character that becomes vital to Mitch’s stories in the more modern world.
Overall, my issues are just nitpicking. I loved the movie, and the studio had it right to scrap the original plan for a Consent to Kill adaption a few years ago and start with American Assassin. Doing this allows fans to fall in love much easier with Rapp by watching his tragic backstory early on. This movie exceeded all my expectations, especially since the marketing for it seemed so minimal. Go watch this movie, you will not regret it. And check out Geek Motivation on Twitter for more awesome movie news and reviews!
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