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'American Assassin' is another spy action movie, but worse

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Michael Cuesta directs the film adaptation of the New York Times bestseller, “American Assassin.” The action novel, written by Vince Flynn, received an incredible amount of praise from both critics and audiences, so it is not any surprise that Hollywood has decided to turn it into another action movie. However, this adaptation takes the mindless formula of a spy action movie to a whole new level─and not in a good way.

The movie begins with Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) watching his fiancee die in front of him at the hands of a group of Islamic terrorists. The movie then follows Rapp’s training as he plans to find and kill the leader behind the attack. He goes all the way, pretending to be an Islamic terrorist to kill the man who killed his fiancee, when suddenly he is interrupted by an American-led raid on the compound and is taken in by the CIA to be trained by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). Rapp is then put onto an ultra-secret task force with the goal of stopping terrorist plots.

About thirty minutes into the film, the audience can see exactly where this movie will end up, along with every single plot device that will be used along the way. This is a summer blockbuster that is a couple months too late. Think of every single spy movie or James Bond trope, combine it with the ex-student-gone-crazy trope and you can write the entirety of “American Assassin.” Rapp is too irresponsible to be a member of the team, but he is also the best solder they have; he ignores orders in their first mission, but gets the job done;a female character is introduced that is nothing more than eye candy and possible love interest for Rapp. The list of tropes goes on and on.

Ultimately, the acting and writing is subpar. Dylan O’Brien can easily play a moody, mysterious super soldier, but without the correct dialogue, there is no point. The side characters, played by Taylor Kitsch, Shiva Negar and Sanaa Lathan, cannot convince the audience of anything. Even Michael Keaton, while a strong actor throughout the beginning of the movie, falls apart near the end as his dialogue is silly, transparent and stereotypical. When important, meaningful lines are getting laughs in the audience, it is easy to tell that the writing is weak.

There is nothing else to say about “American Assassin;” the weak writing, overdone story, poor acting, uninteresting cinematography and unnoticeable soundtrack all add up to a disappointment that is not worth the trip to the movie theater. If you have seen any other spy-action movie but for some reason want to see one that is somehow worse, go see “American Assassin.”

Grade: D

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