“American Assassin” doesn’t kill it at the box office

CIA operatives have to be ready for anything that comes their way during the mission – whether it be your target escaping, or a double agent working in your midst. Most importantly, however, is to never make the mission a personal vendetta against some previous wrongdoing. Michael Keaton’s character Stan Hurley said that last line to Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien, when training to become a CIA operative in the movie “American Assassin”.

In this movie, O’Brien’s character is still reeling from the death of his fiancé at the hands of Islamic Jihadists when he’s recruited by the CIA to become its next hotshot operative. He’s sent to the Roanoke Mountains to train with Michael Keaton’s character Stan Hurley, who’s an ex-navy SEAL and cold war veteran who has many years of experience in the field. Once there he advances quickly through Hurley’s rigorous training and is soon deployed with him on a mission to Turkey.

One major drawback to this movie was its very slow buildup and lack of action in its early plot buildup. Once in Turkey, this movie takes off in a few different directions. Firstly they are assigned to take someone in possession of a deadly nuclear trigger but fail due to unforeseen circumstances. Rapp, however, takes off in pursuit against Hurley’s orders and takes out the guy at his apartment building. Once that happens, the plot takes a sudden turn to finding Hurley’s former protégé, codenamed “Ghost”, who is the person running everything from behind the scenes.  There was a noticeable lack of character development on who “Ghost” was prior to the events of this movie.

The movie’s climax is the only real thing that’s memorable after that point. Rapp rescues a captured Hurley afterwards and fights “Ghost” in a fierce fist fight on a boat. After a long struggle, he kills him and throws the active nuclear warhead off the boat so it can detonate in the water. The resulting explosion nearly takes out the nearby U.S. sixth fleet, but due to it detonating underwater they are saved. The movie ends with Hurley speaking to this superiors on the whereabouts of Rapp and simply states he’s on vacation somewhere. It then pans to him standing in the same elevator as the Iranian presidential candidate, smiling as the elevator door closes. Implying that he plans on taking out the hard lining general who originally planned on acquiring the nuclear warhead.

Critics of this movie praise Dylan O’Brien’s and Michael Keaton’s individual performances, but lamented that the plot seemed too generic and cliché. Movie review website Rotten Tomatoes has it currently at only 34% approval. Critics also disliked the lack of action throughout most of the movie until the last twenty minutes or so.  The CGI in this movie could have been better in some scenes as well.

This movie suffered from things that could’ve easily made it more memorable – had the plot been more developed and more action scenes added in, it could’ve been much improved. Sadly this is not the case, since you leave the theater wondering if the next day you will remember anything that even happened.

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Mitchell Abraham

Mitch Abraham is a senior finishing his final semester in SCSU's Mass Communications program.  He currently serves as news section editor for the University Chronicle and also enjoys writing short fiction stories in his spare time.  When he's not writing, he likes to fish recreationally and hang out with friends and family.

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