REview: American Assassin (2017) | Rickety Plot And Bond-ish Third Act Hobbles Spy Thriller

I didn’t hate Michael Cuesta’s American Assassin though I didn’t like it either.

The movie is well-shot and cast with great actors like David Suchet, Michael Keaton, Scott Adkins and Sanaa Lathan and yet somehow manages to fall apart, particularly in the third act, which replaces some interesting human drama with James Bond-ish antics.

Though American Assassin is primarily the story of Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) and the movie rises and falls on the strength of his story and O’Brien’s portrayal.

And that’s a problem because while O’Brien’s performance is earnest and the most part fine, Rapp’s story isn’t.

For instance, the movie opens with Rapp on a beach with his girlfriend in Ibiza, Spain (that Rapp appears not to do anything beyond hang out on beaches in Ibiza or travel to varied foreign locals is an odd, unspoken problem with the movie, namely where is he getting his money from!? He doesn’t work–at least it’s not mentioned or alluded to on screen–yet he has enough money to travel, pay rent and take Krav Maga classes implies a privilege that’s unspoken and problematic) that is plagued by violence as a bunch of rifle-wielding killers begin to shoot people.

This incident starts Rapp (O’Brien) on his crusade but it’s problematic because the scene unfolds less like a terrorist attack as we traditionally know them than drug cartel violence.

Now, that’s terrorism as well though not the type Rapp devotes a significant portion of his life fighting.

It’s a weird oversight that could have been easily corrected by devoting more time developing the narrative toward the threat of Islamic terrorism, which is clearly Rapp’s North Star.

But that doesn’t happen.

It doesn’t ruin the movie though it’s a weird oversight that doesn’t help when things get even more outlandish, particularly in the third act.

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