American Assassin

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This is the type of movie Michael Keaton was doing before his career was resurrected with Birdman. If you don’t believe me, watch the idiotic movie Need for Speed, which came out right before Birdman. And then look at what he did after Birdman — the Oscar nominated Spotlight.

So he’s playing a character that my wife said was a lot like someone Clint Eastwood would play (and Eastwood sort of did play back in 1986 with Heartbreak Ridge).

The comparisons for this movie are many. It’s like a Bond or Bourne flick, shot nicely in international locations (Italy, Romania, Poland, Libya, Turkey), with a guy that seems like an everyman, but is really a fighting machine.

Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien — The Maze Runner, Teen Wolf) starts the movie proposing to his girlfriend on a beach. My wife and I both looked at each other wondering…what is with his weird patch of chest hair. And what was with his goofy proposal, that didn’t feel the least bit romantic (and is filming it on your cell phone something people do now?). From that point forward, his character never really did anything that made us warm up to him. Sure, we feel bad that a terrorist attack on that beach leads to his fiancee’s death and him wanting to go fight against Islamic terrorists. Somehow though, they should’ve made him more likable.

The Rapp character is from the Vince Flynn series of books that are best sellers. He’s a rebellious character, that as I told my wife when we were leaving, “This is the type of movie where the trailer has that deep announcer voice say, ‘Rapp is a man who plays by his own set of rules’.”

You gotta like his determination. He didn’t just grow a beard and fly over to join/kill the terrorists. He goes to an MMA gym and fights, sometimes pummelling the trainers. He goes to a shooting range and pummels the targets. Even when that means shooting other targets and running onto the range practicing his spin movies…which made my wife ask, “Wouldn’t he be kicked out of there, or arrested for that behavior?”

Yep, but again…they need to show that he plays by his own set of rules.

Along with fighting and shooting, he’s also studying Arabic, and learning about the history of the terrorists, so he can pass any pop quizzes they throw his way.

A CIA agent (Sanaa Lathan of The Best Man and Love & Basketball) likes his moxie, and brings Rapp in as a counterterrorism operative. The first step is having him shape up with a former Navy SEAL named Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) who smokes cigarettes, and puts them out with his fingers. And like most drill sergeants, immediately belittles him. Yet soon enough, they’re teaming up to recover plutonium that Hillary Clinton sold the Russians (I kid; I think it was stolen by a rogue agent [Taylor Kitsch, who was once John Carter] Hurley once trained).

The Iranians want to use the plutonium to make a nuke that can be targeted at Israel.

The movie had plot holes and was cliched, but it’s fun for what it is. If you’re just going for some mindless shoot-em-up picture, it works. Certainly better than The Hitman’s Bodyguard did.

2 ½ stars out of 5.