American Assassin movie poster
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American Assassin
American Assassin movie poster

American Assassin Movie Review

You can kill our soldiers. You can kill our children. But by God, terrorists, don’t you dare kill our sexy, young, bikini-clad women, because we will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you. In the moderately entertaining if generally vanilla action-thriller American Assassin, Dylan O’Brien plays the rebellious, emotionally scarred and highly skilled hero from every other similar action movie and Michael Keaton makes torture look fun.

And Charlotte Vega, who plays the sexy, young, bikini-clad woman who gets killed by terrorists, delivers an award-winning performance in her one scene.

American Assassin proceeds exactly how you’d expect it to, with O’Brien (The Maze Runner) getting recruited by the CIA despite his knack for disobeying orders, trained by a dude who is really good at killing people (Keaton) and then put into the field when a nuclear bomb goes missing, courtesy of a former agent (Taylor Kitsch), where he accomplishes his mission by disobeying every direct order given to him.

The movie throws few if any surprises at the audience and rarely tries to do anything groundbreaking or unique. And yet director Michael Cuesta has made a serviceably entertaining flick with some decently staged action sequences and a fast pace. As generic as the story is, the movie doesn’t feel generic. Not entirely.

O’Brien is fine in the lead, though his most memorable moment was when he emerged from the ocean and posed like Daniel Craig in Casino Royale—except he looks less like a ripped James Bond and more like me flexing my muscles (can you tell? Only I know the answer). Keaton, on the other hand, elevates the material, and while he’s largely relegated to the stereotypical “cynical teacher” role, he still pulls off some badass moments—especially in a scene where he’s tortured and goes full-crazy Keaton, and you should never miss a moment to see full-crazy Keaton.

Kitsch is also pretty good as the villain, though the disgruntled former agent angle is tired beyond belief. Unfortunately, Sanaa Lathan is pretty terrible—either she was given significantly sillier lines than the rest of the cast or simply sucked at delivering them.

American Assassin won’t win any awards—well, except for Vega, may God bless her soul (but we will find you, terrorists, and we will kill you!)—but its fast pace and okay action sequences make it decent enough action fare.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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