American Assassin - This Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: Michael Cuesta
Starring Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, David Suchet, Sanaa Lathan
Come back Chuck Norris, all is forgiven!
There were two ways that American Assassin could go. It could just be cheesy and enjoy itself as a pure old fashioned slice of gratuitous exploitation. Or it could find some nobility, a point of view, something to say that struck a chord with the world we live in now. Unfortunately, this American Assassin opts for neither and ends up being very little indeed.
Strangely enough, it starts well by being completely insensitive, with a beach front terrorist attack on tourists torn very literally – and totally shamelessly – from relatively recent headlines. The cheapness and potential offensiveness of this opening almost bodes well. But what follows is instead a cliché ridden piece of hackneyed action, sub-par by contemporary standards, and boasting what is easily some of the least convincing dialogue this side of the turn of the century.
O’Brien reaches for adult hero status by growing a beard shortly after his girlfriend is killed during the above mentioned beach attack. He then gets thrown out of his gym and beats up his own apartment – just so we know he’s on the edge – before infiltrating the terrorist cell who showed up on the beach that day. Not bad for a lone maverick – so naturally the CIA recruit him, and give him Batman to train him. Keaton is by far the best (only good?) thing in this movie and whilst you do actively worry for his career again by slumming it here, his later moments under duress are the only reason to show up.
Everything else is just not so much bad, as profoundly uninteresting. And overly familiar. There’s a bomb. (Been there.) On a boat. (Done that.) A disgruntled former special ops trainee (oh my, are we back here again...?) All of which is delivered with such a lack of engagement, nothing resembling charm, and such leaden lack of finesse that you care less and less as the minutes tick by on the bomb’s detonator. In fact, letting the bomb blow might at least make things interesting – though still not original (see The Sum Of All Fears.)
What we’re left with is a lumpen, deeply tedious attempt at a franchise launcher (there’s more than one book in the series it’s based on) that has in O’Brien a good looking charisma void at best.
Outside of Michael Keaton spitting blood, this has practically nothing going on.