American Assassin Review: Dylan O’Brien at His Best
American Assassin tells the story of Mitch Rapp, a young man who following a tragic and devastating loss turns to attack the terrorists who inflicted that pain on him. In his endeavors, he catches the attention of a counterterrorism task force headed by Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan). She sees a great potential in him and recruits him to be part of her task force. In order to be properly trained, she sends him off to live and train with Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). Hurley is unsure of his potential and is leery of training him, noting that Mitch is much like a former student of his. As his training completes, they head out on a mission that will bring back memories for everyone involved and puts the safety of thousands of people at risk.
The opening scene of American Assassin is one of the best I’ve seen in years. It is tense, engaging, and has you with your heart in your throat the entire time. The rest of the film falls away from that but still remains entertaining to watch. The action in the film is really well done. The fight scenes, the special effects, and the car chase scenes are explosive and fun.
This is easily the best that Dylan O’Brien has ever been. His performance is nuanced and calculated. The emotional scenes hit really well and the turn over he makes into being a killer assassin is spot on. He makes the transition seamlessly and is a really kick ass action hero. Michael Keaton is phenomenal as Hurley. There is a scene in the film where he is tortured and it is an extremely tense and intimate scene that just demonstrates how incredibly talented Keaton really is. Ghost (Taylor Kitsch) is a character that plays into the story and has a pretty decent performance but next to Keaton and O’Brien’s, it really doesn’t compare.
The pacing in the film is a bit off and could stand a trim in the middle. It isn’t that the film is slow, but with such a strong beginning and end, the middle felt bloated and could be trimmed to make the film more effective.
American Assassin is a thrilling and fantastic ride. The action and performances will keep you on the edge of your seat. Despite some small issues in the middle of the film, it opens big and ends big. It is a film that will stick with you for a long time.