Violent Indifference: Our Review of ‘American Assassin’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - September 18, 2017
Violent Indifference: Our Review of ‘American Assassin’

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a rogue agent, a hothead soldier, a runaway nuke, and oh, rampant Islamophobia and extreme violence and bloodshed. Those and other alternatively ridiculous or offensive cliches abound in the thoroughly unimaginative and unnecessary American Assassin ,a two-hour ad for male hero vigilantism .

Our determined protagonist is our typical gritty action star, a young, grizzled man with long hair and wild eyes. He is Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), who loses his fiancee to a terrorist attack while vacationing on the day they are engaged. Not the most fun way to start a movie, as a dozen armed murderers slaughter dozens on a beach. A year and a half later, Rapp is fierce and physically impressed, but still misguided, and soon recruited to work for the government on some special team that kills people. He seeks vengeance of course, but still have to control his emotions.

To hone his skills, he is enlisted under the tutelage of Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), a hardline macho dude who likes to remind his students that they’re all alone out in the field and when they die, no one will care. Other cliches include the C.I.A. agent who recruits Rapps saying twice in two minutes that Rapp “tests off the charts.”

Well, get a bigger chart, because American Assassin is riddled with such lazy, familiar action stereotypes that are neither fun to watch nor well-executed. One or two almost-twists take place as the film moves towards a its finale that features, wait for it, a runaway nuke, as body count piles up and Rapp continues to do things on his own. A new villain pops up in the second half, and he is just as a bore as our hero, while a female agent also makes an appearance too and actually isn’t entirely a sexist caricature.

Still, American Assassin is joyless and dull, an exercise in becoming desensitized to violence and terrorism and embrace your basest and most uninspired desires.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.