American Assassin (2017)

<strong class="MovieTitle">American Assassin</strong> (2017)

(On Cable TV, November 2018) As a quick trawl through this site’s archives shows, I’m more than familiar with the novels of Vince Flynn, from which American Assassin was adapted. Unfortunately, I wasn’t much of a fan back then, and most American thriller writers are now so far to the right that they’re often unreadable for any sane foreigner. American Assassin takes up that worldview verbatim, offering a vision of bloodthirsty terrorist hiding in every dark corner, gleefully mounting plans against all Americans and requiring the services of none other than a state-sanctioned psychopath. Someone very much like Mitch Rapp, traumatized by the violent murder of his girlfriend and positively lusting after revenge. You can probably write the rest of the film yourself, so closely does it adhere to the usual formula. Despite the numerous fights, chases and evil plans, it’s a surprisingly dull thriller. Nearly everything is on rails going from one plot point to another, and Dylan O’Brien doesn’t have what it takes to make a compelling protagonist out of what the script gives him. But someone else does, and it’s Michael Keaton—he shines brightly in a supporting role as a hard-as-nails mentor who positively relishes his job. Otherwise, some nice special effects illustrate a nuclear-driven climax. But that’s it—American Assassin plays to its paranoid base but doesn’t do the required legwork to reach out to a broader audience. It’s surprisingly boring whenever Keaton isn’t on-screen.

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