Do Yourself a Secret Service, Don’t Watch ‘American Assassin’

With a sea of great action movies to watch, American Assassin is a shallow pool with a story that’s equivalent to a Call of Duty game. However, while Call of Duty has the entertaining gameplay to back it up, American Assassin has the same generic dialogue for 90% of the runtime with no memorable action scenes to be had. Abort, abort, abort.

You have probably seen this type of movie before, but let’s explain the plot anyway.

[Insert generic main character with a brooding history here], played by Dylan O’Brien, becomes a vigilante after his fiancee is killed by terrorists in a random, unexplained attack, and is seeking revenge against the group behind it. After a series of events, he gets picked up as a U.S. agent to stop a nuclear bomb from going into the wrong hands. Blah blah blah, betrayal, blah blah blah, hard as nails leader played by Michael Keaton, blah blah blah, standard terrorist thwarting affair. You get the idea.

For an “action movie,” American Assassin barely has any action, and when it finally gets rolling, those scenes turn out to be short and mediocre at best. The screenplay also blesses us with bland characters that become laughable despite trying to make you sympathize with them, and it makes the film drag on. It’s funny how the script thinks it’s so entertaining that it can hold the movie by itself without expensive set pieces to back it up; it’s god awful. O’Brien and the rest of the cast have no chemistry, and despite the arduously long time it spends with conversations, there is barely any character development.

At the end of the movie, you’re supposed to buy that [generic character], [hard as nails leader], and the rest of the cast care about each other to the point of risking their lives, despite Keaton’s character solely being an ass to O’Brien’s. The characters are so generic that sometimes mixing the protagonist and the antagonist is easy to do. Character motivations throughout also make little sense and lack clarity and coherence in its script and editing. In the middle of the movie, it was tempting just to walk out of the theatre because the slim moments of mediocre action scenes are not worth the bore fest of 90% of the scenes.

The action scenes are not worth waiting for. They go on for merely a matter of seconds, and the climactic battle is one that doesn’t leave an impact. They’re well choreographed and look visceral, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. There is one scene that is visually interesting, and that is the augmented reality scene. Holograms appear in front of [generic character], and they have to spot enemies within a crowd of people. It’s a small scene, but it’s worth mentioning.

The soundtrack is completely forgettable, and the editing is messy in places with random, unnecessary cuts every once in a while, but if we’re going into the nitty gritty details (because hey, there’s not much to this movie to discuss anyway), the make-up is, at the very least, spot on with gruesome wounds and blood effects.

O’Brien, Keaton, and Charlotte Vega, who plays an agent named Katrina, try their best with what they have to work with and all give solid performances. O’Brien, at the beginning of the movie, does a great job of displaying the rage of his character after the death of [generic character]’s fiancee, but as the movie continues his performance becomes merely adequate. Keaton, despite being typecast, holds a commanding presence on screen as he trains O’Brien in combat and is tested towards the end of the movie. Despite us not being able to care for the character and what happens to her, Vega is also able to give a believable performance despite the dull material she is provided with.

Don’t watch this movie. The writing is as bland as your average military shooting video game. The slim action scenes are not worth the wait as they are mediocre at best. The cast, and the makeup saves it from being an F.

Grade: D-

(Featured Image: American Assassin, Lionsgate)

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