Mediocre manhunt movie


“Teen Wolf’s” Dylan O’Brien is all grown up, and “American Assassin” is the badass flick fangirls have been swooning over for months.

O’Brien looks good, but he’s just that— an attractive cookie-cutter lead fulfilling the duties of his character.

Lead character Mitch Rapp has been through hell and back. In the movie’s opening, he proposes to his girlfriend, and minutes later, terrorists attack the beach, killing his fiancee. 

Rapp then makes it his life’s mission to infiltrate the terrorist group that took his lover and kill them— until the U.S. government gets involved.

I haven’t read the Vince Flynn book series this movie takes its story from, but O’Brien plays Rapp as subtly as possible— too subtle, almost.

His character is hardened and damaged, with O’Brien’s portrayal emotionless. His voice gets louder, sure, but there’s no change in inflection or feeling.

Michael Keaton plays Hurley, the undercover agent who trains Rapp to become an American assassin. Keaton’s character quite possibly has the most depth, and he’s much more believable than O’Brien at playing a war-battered killer who’s seen tragedy.

There are some absolutely disgusting scenes in the movie, such as an ear being eaten (a literal human ear) and fingernails being torn off, which added a little spice to the pretty generic plot, but ultimately felt pretty pointless.

Action movies are often pretty generic, and this is no exception. However, O’Brien’s performance leaves a lot to be desired in terms of character depth and someone audiences can sympathize with.

Rapp doesn’t grow; he doesn’t develop. Rapp is the arguably same right after the tragedy that took his girlfriend as he is after what is supposed to be life-changing training with Hurley.

Rapp meets characters, and they already know everything about them— we never get to see him really develop relationships with some otherwise interesting characters (Taylor Kitsch as “Ghost,” Sanaa Lathan as CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy.)

Most of the characters either immediately like Rapp or don’t— very little changes that, and that lack of dynamic character interaction ultimately hurts the movie.

The plot was interesting enough to sit through the two hours sufficiently entertained. It had a couple twists and turns, but for the most time followed a predictable plot line where good triumphs over evil.

The movie left the story open for sequels, and the Mitch Rapp book series has more installments to go. Perhaps between now and then, O’Brien will mature as an actor, but to be honest, he’s best at playing a goofy high school kid whose friends are werewolves.

Who’d think that would be more believable?

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)