I really only know Dylan O’Brien from The Maze Runner so it’s a nice change of pace to see him do something a little more mature and I’m hoping he can make a name for himself as one of the next generation of action stars. Does he succeed?
O’Brien stars as Mitch Rapp, a graduate student who is caught in a terrorist attack and loses the woman he loves. He abandons everything in his life except for one thing: revenge. He trains and infiltrates terrorist cells, hoping to kill the people responsible for his love’s death. This gets the attention of the CIA (headed by Sanaa Lathan), who recruits Rapp to train with the best trainer in the US (Michael Keaton). Things go sideways when a former student (Taylor Kitsch) arrives on the scene, part of some plan to steal and use a nuclear bomb, so newcomer Rapp must try to stop him.
This movie entirely relies on Dylan O’Brien and luckily he nails it. He totally embodies the part, though the character itself is a bit cliche (deadly assassin haunted by his past). He is convincing in his action though, proving he has the chops to be a great action star (and this movie itself might be a launching point for a franchise).
The first maybe 20-30 minutes of this movie are super intriguing, as we witness the trauma of this mass shooting and the evolution of Rapp as a killer who wants revenge. This is the best part of the film and I would’ve preferred that the entire movie cover these events, as we skip tons of training and preparation that would’ve built up this character.
The movie that we eventually get is unfortunately less interesting than the first 20 minutes. It turns into a bit of a cliche, standard Hollywood action fare. There’s nothing bad about it but it all feels generic. Generic fight scenes, shoutouts, car chases, even a few twists you can spot from a mile away.
The biggest downfall of this movie is that it skips everything interesting. A man wants revenge so he learns everything about these terrorist cells in order to infiltrate them and kill the men responsible. That is an entire movie there, but here it’s relegated to 20 minutes, followed by a generic action adventure movie.
This movie is fine, but ultimately focuses on the wrong things, causing it to dive down to familiar territory. It has decent action and Dylan O’Brien nails the role but the story he’s a part of really underwhelms. If you’re a fan of action and just want some escapism though, American Assassin will do the trick.