Assassin seems all too familiar
From its rogue operatives to its double-crosses and “don’t trust anyone” speeches, stolen nukes and a splash of Euro-locales, American Assassin is a new spy movie that feels a lot like all the old spy movies. Call it The Bourne Simulacrum.
Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) stars as Mitch Rapp, set on a trail of bloody vengeance when terrorists gun down his fiancé of five minutes while the two are on a resort vacation. Little more than a year later, Mitch has become a selfmade, one-man expert in Qur’anic wisdom, the Arabic language and weapons technology. He’s then recruited by the CIA, which wants him to come in from the cold.
Sanaa Lathan is deputy director Irene Kennedy, but Mitch’s real contact in the agency is Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton in the type of role that generally goes to Kevin Costner these days (see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 3 Days to Kill). Keaton is having far more fun than you will at this movie.
Mitch’s training makes for a manly apprenticeship, conversation interspersed with fighting and the occasional electric shock. Pupil and teacher are constantly feeling each other out, searching for weaknesses. If there weren’t a common threat in the form of black-market plutonium, they’d probably kill each other.
Instead, Mitch and the rest of Stan’s team have to track down and eliminate the bad guys before they can build a nuclear trigger and hijack a physicist. Just about everyone mentions at some point that Mitch shouldn’t be trusted — and it turns out they’re right — but Stan What: Drama directed by Justin Chadwick
Synopsis: In 17th century Amsterdam, at the height of the notorious tulip craze, a young bride (Alicia Vikander) begins an affair with the artist (Dane DeHaan) hired to paint her portrait. Now they need only deceive her husband (Christoph Waltz) to be together. With Judi Dench, Cara Delevingne, Holliday Grainger. Dylan O'Brien and Shiva Negar star in American Assassin, a new spy movie that feels a lot like a lot of old spy movies, except with unbelievable shooting and chase scenes.
is willing to look the other way as long as he gets results.
Occasionally these results require quick shooting and even quicker thinking, or no thinking at all; it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. Other times it’s quick driving, with Mitch slaloming around perfectly spaced cars on the streets of Rome. This is where your suspension of disbelief may be broken, since if there’s one truism about Roman traffic, it’s that the cars are never even close to perfectly spaced.
A quartet of writers adapted American Assassin from the 2010 novel, directed by Michael Cuesta (TV’s Homeland). The cast is a mostly forgettable lot of snarling Classification: 14A
Where: Hyland Cinema, 240 Wharncliffe Rd. (519-913-0312) (See Movieguide, Page Tulip Fever
villains and sacrificial heroes, although Iranian-born Shiva Negar does a good job as the requisite exotic intelligence agent and possible love interest.
Still, the focus remains squarely on O’Brien, whom you can see treating this as an extended screen test for a hoped-for franchise. After all, with 13 Mitch Rapp novels already on the bookshelf from Vince Flynn, and three more by Kyle Mills since the original author’s death, there’s ample opportunity for Rapp to return. Let’s just hope he finds something to distinguish himself from the Jack Ryans, Jack Bauers and Ethan Hunts of the world. “Based on a novel” is about the only thing novel about it. Running
(out of five)
What: Spy thriller directed by Michael Cuesta
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Shiva Negar, Michael Keaton
Where: Imagine Cinemas, Landmark Cinemas, SilverCity, Westmount & VIP Cinemas, Galaxy Cinemas, St. Thomas
(See Movieguide, Assassin American
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