Ac­tion fills plot holes in Amer­i­can As­sas­sin

Winnipeg Sun - - LIFE - — The As­so­ci­ated Press Run­ning time: 111 mins.

Mitch Rapp is an ac­tion hero in the vein of Jack Ryan or John McClane: an im­pos­si­bly tough and de­ter­mined ev­ery­day guy out to save the world.

Dy­lan O’Brien brings a youth­ful fresh­ness to that archetype in Amer­i­can As­sas­sin, his first lead­ing-man role and the first big-screen adap­ta­tion of Vince Flynn’s se­ries of Rapp nov­els. The char­ac­ter is scrappy and out­spo­ken, re­bel­lious and sin­gle­minded, and a skilled wielder of all man­ner of weapons.

But Rapp is first seen on­screen as a starry-eyed lover in Ibiza about to pro­pose to his girl­friend. Their idyl­lic mo­ment is ru­ined when ter­ror­ists storm the beach and Rapp’s fi­ancee ends up among the dead.

Flash for­ward 18 months and Rapp is a bearded recluse in Rhode Is­land, where he’s been study­ing Ara­bic, mas­ter­ing firearms and prac­tis­ing mar­tial arts. He plans to take out the ter­ror king­pin re­spon­si­ble for the Ibiza at­tack. But his clan­des­tine train­ing catches the eye of a CIA re­cruiter (Sanaa Lathan), who brings Rapp in as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tive. From there, the story jumps around mul­ti­ple in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions as Rapp un­der­goes ad­vanced train­ing with the hu­mour­less Stan Hur­ley (Michael Keaton) and onto a mis­sion to re­cover a heap of stolen plu­to­nium. Ira­nian forces in­tend to make a nu­clear weapon to at­tack Israel. But an Amer­i­can mer­ce­nary and for­mer stu­dent of Hur­ley’s known as Ghost (Tay­lor Kitsch) is also in­volved, and he has his own ideas about how the plu­to­nium should be used.

Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing the story are the var­i­ous dou­ble-agents in­volved and an ap­par­ently com­plex yet un­ex­plained his­tory be­tween Ghost and Hur­ley. But no mat­ter: O’Brien is won­der­ful to watch, a con­vinc­ing ac­tion star with per­fectly tou­sled hair. He brings a sen­si­tiv­ity to Rapp that bal­ances his bru­tal­ity, mak­ing him easy to root for, even if he doesn’t al­ways fol­low the rules.

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