Rapped up and ready for full-on ac­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - - News -

Ja­son Bournes and Jack Ryans of this world are seem­ingly out of the movie game for now. Per­haps for good.

There­fore the way is clear for a younger, hun­grier and cooler spy guy to step forth from the shad­owy world of in­ter­na­tional es­pi­onage.

So say hello to (and then duck for cover from) Mitch Rapp, a can-do counter-ter­ror­ism op­er­a­tive rapidly and ruth­lessly ris­ing through the ranks of the CIA.

The most pop­u­lar cre­ation of the late best-sell­ing au­thor Vince Flynn, Rapp (played by Maze Run­ner heart-throb Dy­lan O’Brien) needs an all­stops-out ori­gin story to find quick trac­tion with au­di­ences.

This rudi­men­tary run-and­gun ac­tion thriller does the job in largely work­man­like fashion, save for the sur­prise sight­ing of pres­tige ac­tor Michael Keaton ( Bird­man, Spot­light) get­ting his kicks as Rapp’s tough old boot of a men­tor.

We first meet Mitch Rapp in what is frankly a dis­turb­ing re-en­act­ment of the kind of ran­dom ter­ror­ist at­tack that ex­clu­sively tar­gets Western tourists at Third-World hol­i­day re­sorts.

One mo­ment, Mitch is propos­ing mar­riage to his girl­friend on the beach. The next mo­ment a squad of gun­men are me­thod­i­cally mov­ing up and down the shore­line, calmly shoot­ing any­one in their path.

Suf­fice to say, in the af­ter­math of this in­ci­dent Mitch won’t be book­ing a hon­ey­moon, but he will have a ma­jor mo­ti­va­tion to fight ter­ror­ism wher­ever he can lay his hand on it.

Af­ter sin­gle-hand­edly in­fil­trat­ing an mur­der­ous ISIS-ish cell in the Mid­dle East of his own ac­cord, the CIA is suffi- ciently im­pressed to of­fer Mitch a start­ing po­si­tion on their team.

En­ter Stan Hur­ley (Keaton), a leg­endary coach of covert killers who has the job of shap­ing Mitch’s 24/7 quest for per­sonal vengeance into some­thing with long-term po­lit­i­cal gain for US in­ter­ests over­seas.

Keaton is clearly slum­ming it for an easy pay­day here, but he doesn’t just coast along on his rep­u­ta­tion. When­ever he shares the screen with O’Brien, the in­ex­pe­ri­enced lead­ing man sud­denly rises in stature and abil­ity to im­press.

Even if the wonky sto­ry­line pro­pel­ling Amer­i­can As­sas­sin doesn’t quite pick you up — later, Rapp and the gang are chas­ing a rogue ex-agent (Tay­lor Kitsch) trad­ing in dirty nukes — a com­pletely over­the-top fi­nale will still get you over the line.

THINK TANK: Plan­ning their next move against the bad guys in Amer­i­can As­sas­sin are, from left, Shiva Ne­gar, Michael Keaton, Nej Adam­son and Dy­lan O’Brien.

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