American Assassin Review – Fast Action, Solid, Gripping

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American Assassin, from Lionsgate and CBS Films, presents a fast action, contemporary thrill ride through the inner sanctums of the CIA, Special Forces, and Black Ops Units, with an authentic solid, global terror, story line.

Directed by Michael Cuesta, American Assassin stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, Charlotte Vega, David Suchet, Michael Wildman, Scott Adkins, Taylor Kitsch, Emily White, Shani Erez  and was written by Stephen Schiff and Michael Finch. American Assassin was produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

American Assassin begins on the beach in Ibiza Spain. We met an American couple, Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien and Katrina, played by Charlotte Vega, young and in love.

The two are happy, on vacation, when suddenly our guy Mitch man’s up, pulls out the ring and, if he weren’t in waist high water in the Mediterranean he would have taken the knee, and asks Katrina to marry him. Of course she says yes and the two take a few selfies in the water, film the engagement video. To toast the event he runs off to get drinks at the bar.

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Suddenly, out of nowhere, the sounds of firecrackers, start to pop. The next minutes are filled with tourists trying to outrun the terrorists who have made this resort scene a killing field. Mitch, shot in the shoulder is running to where he left Katrina, and just as she calls his name a bullet catches her in the chest. By then he’s been hit twice and the terrorists walks over to Katrina and ends any hope shooting her in the head.

The film moves to 18 months in the future, Mitch has returned to the states, of course unable to shake the trauma, he has taken a different route. Plotting what he believes is the perfect revenge plan, he develops himself into a one make killing machine with a one man target. He learns every mercenary skill necessary, he believes, and engages in chat room recruitment with the fanatics who troll the internet looking for the disenfranchised.

Part of any Terrorist infiltration is knowing everything, not just the hand to hand and physical, and Mitch also studied the playbooks these zealots use to rationalize their religious hatred. Soon he has been summoned and is in Tripoli.

As soon as he arrives, he follows orders and is taken to terrorists headquarters to be grilled, interrogated by the terrorist who are hoping for a reason to kill him, as someone without the leadership of the Islamic State has deemed him viable, authentic and useable. Just as he began to respond, the room is blasted and the Americas who have been watching Mitch for over a year, take him to CIA headquarters.

It’s here we meet CIA Director Irene Kennedy, played by Sanaa Lathan, Director Stansfield, played by David Suchet and Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton.

Mitch is really unconcerned as he is interrogated this time by the good guys, Director Irene Kennedy, and as they are aware of him surviving the Ibiza terrorist attack, they seem to be more curious as they realize he was driven by revenge and was able to infiltrate, at a high level, this fringe branch which is more than the CIA has been able to accomplish.

Soon Kennedy is arguing with Director Stansfield, played by David Suchet, on the merits of recruiting Mitch to complete the task he started. His background fits the usual CIA profile, his scores are “off the chart” his polygraph is clean.

American Assassin is a bad ass, gripping, modern film that doesn’t play down the world’s instability as the CIA and other elite national security agencies meet to stop those looking to inflict mass casualty, injury and create a global dominance.

As in any of these types of films, it is a race against time, and with American Assassin, the playing field and the rules change  quickly as the terrorists move and as usual are well funded.

With a shockingly realistic beginning, only two things are possible, either a complete and humiliating fall or bigger weaving in more realism into the world of international terrorism and global politics and agendas. Which is of course what happens, with Lorenzo Di Bonaventura producing one expects heightened action, faster, snappier, a greater degree of edge of your seat thrills.

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Michael Keaton really digs into this role and the audience sees only the here and now. Nothing from his storied film career creeps in as he plays Stan Hurley, CIA Special Ops lead. We meet our CIA field team, comprised of Hurley, Mitch Rapp, Victor, played by Scott Adkins, and Annika, played by Shiva Negar,  

Sanaa Lathan is able to handle the complexities and deliver a genuine performance as the Director for the CIA with its international leaders and global instabilities.

The entire cast delivers shockingly truthful performances as they travel across Europe in this race against time as the mission changes and they are left to adapt as a rouge ghost shows up attempting to disband his old team on his terms.

American Assassin is solid. A highspeed action storyline that doesn’t shy away from the realities of European life and lifestyle with the possibility of a mass shooting happening at any time.

With the CIA Black Ops units portrayed, one can expect elevated technology training, simulation that is state of the art and when the team hits the street plenty of revenge and control killing, car chases, and expected violence.

American Assassin opens in theaters Friday, September 15, 2017. See this film.


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