American Assassin: Movie Review

 

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WARNING: *Will contain spoilers!*

Have you ever had your life completely change, within a matter of one second? That’s exactly what happened to Mitch Rapp, the main character in American Assassin, which, in addition to now being a movie, is the first book in a series about Rapp, written by the late Vince Flynn.

Rapp is a CIA agent working to eliminate terrorist groups. Each book in the series shows how he became the assassin Flynn fans know him as today.

In the opening scene of the film, the audience is introduced to Rapp and his fiancé, Catrina, swimming in the ocean — on vacation. Any audience member may begin to wonder, “How did this man become the assassin he is today?” The question is answered ten minutes into the scene, when Rapp gets Catrina a drink to celebrate their recent engagement. Suddenly, shots are fired. Bullets fly everywhere as Rapp (who receives a bullet in his side) races back to Catrina, who is calling out his name, before any harm comes to her.

 

He is too late.

 

Seconds later, another bullet makes its way toward Catrina’s head. Although this scene was portrayed in fast motion, Rapp was still able to get a glimpse of the killer. Throughout the movie, that killer’s face never leaves Rapp’s mind.

The movie flashes forward to 18 months later,  showing a full-bearded Rapp. When we first see him, he immediately goes to a computer — he is in contact with the terrorist group the man who killed Catrina is a part of.

 

The movie’s plot is immediately set in motion.

 

Gone is the happy-go-lucky Rapp, and now, an angry, hot-tempered man is in his place. Though it’s not said, the audience can clearly tell just how much anger is within Rapp. Going too far in a fight club — Rapp is forcefully pulled off another person and yelled at to get lost. At a shooting range, Rapp repeatedly fires bullets into white, figure drawings standing a few feet away and ends up setting off a warning alarm. Dylan O’Brien, the actor playing the role of Rapp, does a fantastic job of conveying the anger building in Rapp through his body language.

Unbeknownst to Rapp, the CIA has been following his every move for months. The two worlds meet when Rapp receives a meeting location in the Middle East from the terrorist group. The CIA are the ones who finish off Rapp’s avenge plan.

During Rapp’s time in the CIA, the organization decides to send him to their secret special-ops group. There O’Brien’s character meets Michael Keaton’s character, Stan Hurley.  Hurley, after reading over Rapp’s files, immediately doesn’t like him. Keaton then delivers one of my favorite lines, “Now you wanna kill those mean ole terrorists?” in reference to Rapp’s fiancé being killed by one of them.  O’Brien’s character then delivers a smart remark back about having what it takes to make it through Hurley’s selection process. Already the audience can tell these two characters will butt heads.

Rapp makes it through the process, and the movie quickly moves to the second half of Rapp’s journey. The audience meets a few more characters, including one from Hurley’s past: Ghost, as some know him. Hurley calls him by his real name, Ronnie. Played by Taylor Kitsch, Ronnie is beyond angry at Hurley for what he did to him in the past. He’s so angry it turns him into a lunatic. He does things like making a bomb that can kill millions of people in one area. Kitsch does an excellent job of conveying the hurt and how it’s driven his character mad.

Hurley, Rapp and the rest of the small, hand-picked special-ops group trail behind Ghost’s trail in an effort to stop the bomb from demolishing an entire area.

 

The movie from then on shows great action and fight scenes.

 

The first is Rapp being chased by two dogs as he goes after a businessman who is giving supplies to terrorists. Rapp then climbs through a window into the room where the businessman is located. O’Brien makes the action seem so smooth and silent, the audience delivered a gasp, now more attentive than ever. As Rapp — gun pointed at the target — stares down at the businessman, who is pleading for his life, Rapp sees his fiancé’s killer. This brought me back to the scene before the team went off on the mission, when Hurley had said to Mitch, “Don’t ever let it (the mission) get personal.” But in that moment, Rapp did.

In the second great action scene, Hurley and Ghost meet face-to-face again. Ghost has Hurley chained up and bloody. At times, you couldn’t tell if Hurley was pain because of how well Keaton acted through the scene. Instead of the audience fearing for his life, they were laughing at all the jokes his character was saying. Both actors were able to bring out disgust in the audience, with Ghost scraping off two of Hurley’s fingernails, and Hurley biting off a piece of Ghost’s ear and chewing it as if it was a piece of gum in his mouth. My nose stayed scrunched up until the scene was over.

The second-to-last great (both action and fight) scene involved Rapp and Ghost on the boat. This was one of the final scenes in the movie. The bomb is on the boat as Rapp and Ghost go head-to-head. At one point, Ghost has Rapp pinned to the ground, knife aiming extremely close to Rapp’s neck, when he says seethingly, “Didn’t Hurley tell you not to make it personal?” He also antagonizes Rapp by bringing up his fiance. In the end, it’s actually Ghost who makes it personal. I realized this after Rapp flips both of them over — with a move Hurley taught him — with a swift and clean stab to Ghost’s neck, killing him almost instantly. Ghost, before heading off to sea with the bomb,  tells Hurley he wants to die at sea. My eyes widened as I made the realization.

The last fantastic fight scene is when the bomb goes off after Rapp throws it out into the ocean. All was quiet for a moment before a boom filled the theater. The water sucked into itself before rising into a mushroom cloud and sending a wave towards the military ships that were waiting for the bomb to go off and the helicopter filled with two pilots, Hurley and Rapp. My mouth hung open and continued to stay that way as the water came crashing down, sending a huge wave toward the ships. Whatever effects were used to make that waterlike atomic bomb, I applaud the crew members who did it.

The movie did leave me with one unanswered question: Why wasn’t Mitch killed in the terror attack on the beach?

Overall, this movie from start to finish left me on the edge of my seat. I was even more excited when I found out there will be more of these movies to come. As for the actors and actresses in the movie, they all did an excellent job of making a typical action movie very entertaining to watch. I would definitely recommend anyone who likes action movies see this film.

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