When his girlfriend is killed in a terrorist attack, Mitch Rapp (Dylan O'Brien) goes in search of vengeance. His activities soon draw the attention of the CIA and Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) who decides to recruit Rapp. Kennedy sends him to the Orion Group - a black ops unit - where he'll be trained by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), a former Navy Seal and the team leader. On Rapp's first mission, Orion are tasked with finding missing plutonium and the American (Taylor Kitsch) who has it, a man Hurley trained.
The movie is based on the 11th book in the series by Vince Flynn. I can't say how closely it follows the book, but this is one of those spy movies where the spies do very little spying before shooting up the place, combined with a typical trainer/trainee story in which the trainer continues to doubt the trainee until he proves himself in the third act. As a generic action movie it's fine, the fight scenes are well choreographed and O'Brien and Keaton are reasonably convincing if not a little intense. But you never really find yourself caring about these characters.
The problem is American Assassin is advertised as a serious movie grounded in reality, and it does start that way. The opening beach scene - a marauding attack by multiple armed terrorists on a tourist beach resort - feels all too real. But from then on the plot seems to drift more into fantasy, from Rapp's laughable recruitment to the cliched villains and the ridiculous, overly CGI'd finale. There's no doubt Rapp has got skills, but I seriously doubt that a person consumed by hatred and a need for vengeance would ever pass a psych evaluation. A point proven by Rapp's inability to follow a single order. I understand the mentality of getting the job done no matter what, but there are limits to that. The way the character is written, he's totally unreliable, you would never be able to trust him.
American Assassin is intended to be the first in a series much like Bond or Bourne, but like that other franchise starter of 2017 - Tom Cruise's The Mummy - American Assassin just isn't good enough to inspire a follow up. That's not to say this is as bad as The Mummy because it's not. At the very least American Assassin is watchable, however it doesn't do anything new or exciting. My experience of this movie was decidedly 'meh', I wasn't bored but I wasn't thrilled either.
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