"American Assassin" stars Dylan O'Brien as Mitch Rapp, a man who is on the hunt for the terrorists who killed his girlfriend during an attack. Rapp is eventually recruited into a black ops unit lead by Michael Keaton, and the two of them embark on a mission to prevent a nuclear device from being detonated in the Middle East, thus starting a world war.
Right away with this movie, the one thing I noticed watching it was that I couldn't connect to this character of Mitch Rapp at all, and the reason is Dylan O'Brien. That's not to say that he's a bad actor in general, but he's just not good in this particular role. He comes across as overly-whiny and moody which is kind of understandable considering that his girlfriend was killed, but there comes a point where you just want him to shut up and actually get off his ass and do something about it instead of moping around. When the character isn't getting his ass kicked in an action scene, he's just walking around and treating everyone around him like shit. We can go ahead a chalk that up as a failure in both acting and character writing.
Michael Keaton unsurprisingly gives a good performance, but I also had problems with his character. He's a Cold War veteran who heads the black ops unit that Rapp has joined, but he comes off as incredibly unstable for someone who's suppose to be some expert military guy. If I can describe him in one way, here it is: Remember this great moment from Tim Burton's "Batman"? That's basically Keaton's character throughout the entire movie. He's just always on the verge of going insane and it didn't fit for what the movie was trying to sell his character as. Again, Keaton is good with what he's given, but what he's given can only make so much sense.
One thing about this movie that surprised me was how violent it is. There's a part of me that wants to praise it for going balls to the wall with its violent, but then there's the part of me that realizes that it's just violence for the sake of violence. It's almost as if the director knew that this movie wasn't going to stand out in terms of story, so he tried to make it stand out with its graphic content. There's one torture scene in this movie that actually made me squirm in my seat, so I guess I have to give points to the movie for it being effective in a way, but for the most part, the extreme violence is unwarranted.
I will say that this movie does have the occasional entertaining action scene here and there, along with an opening twenty minutes that did a decent job of hooking me into its story, but as the movie goes along, the more absurd it becomes and by the third act, you're watching a movie that's completely different from how it started. All I'll say is that if you're one of those people who had problems with "The Dark Knight Rises" and how over-the-top it got with its use of a nuke, then you're going to have a goddamn heart attack with how this movie's nuke is utilized. Things reach disaster movie proportions and you start to forget what movie you even walked into in the first place.
Overall, "American Assassin" isn't bad, it's just mediocre and wildly average. Michael Keaton is good and some of the action scenes are admittedly entertaining in a mindless way, but Dylan O'Brien doesn't work as an action lead, the plot gets more absurd as it moves along, and it's story is about as basic as you can get for a revenge action flick. I saw this movie last night and just a few hours ago I got out of a screening for "Mother!". I won't spoil my review for that movie, but I'll say that this is a pretty dead weekend for new release movies.