Franchise Fred Exclusive: Lorenzo Di Bonaventura on the Mitch Rapp Franchise

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura brought a lot of franchises to life during his time as a Warner Brothers exec. Even as a producer he’s brought us Transformers, G.I. Joe and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Now he’s bringing Vince Flynn’s hero Mitch Rapp to the scree in American Assassin. After the press conference for American Assassin, I asked Di Bonaventura if he had ideas for which book could be the next Mitch Rapp movie.

“I think we probably all have a different feeling about that,” Di Bonaventura said. “I like the books in sequence because the feeling of the book that follows here, Kill Shot, is almost like The Fugitive. I like the idea of doing a spy movie where the spy is on the run.”

American Assassin takes a hard look at modern intelligence during the war on terror. Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) goes rogue at first, then trains under Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) who is not exactly by the books. It addresses rogue agents and the cost of becoming someone who can infiltrate terrorist cells.

One way in which American Assassin does not address our real world is that it seems Donald Trump is not president in Mitch Rapp’s world. A news report refers to “America’s President.” They could have dubbed in the sitting President’s name after the 2016 election, but made an artistic choice to leave it ambiguous.

“There was no reason to, really,” Di Bonaventura said. “We did do a tip of the hat by doing the ‘fake news’ concept. Obviously this movie is meant to entertain, first and foremost, but it’s also playing in a real arena and we just didn’t want the audience to start thinking we were taking a side with something that’s going on politically. It’s so inflamed right now.”

Mitch Rapp is pursuing Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), a former student of Hurley’s. When Ghost’s ultimate plan is reveal, fans of Kitsch’s filmography may feel a sense of poetic justice.

“I thought it was pretty awesome,” Di Bonaventura said. “I’m sure he did.”

American Assassin opens tomorrow.

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