I’m not a huge fan of espionage thrillers, but I am a huge fan of Michael Keaton, so I walked into the screening without a clear sense of what to expect.
FOOD/DRINK BEFORE SCREENING: Happy hour (cocktail and appetizers)
EXPECTATION OF MOVIE: Moderate
The opening scene was refreshing – shot from a millennial, iPhone point-of-view perspective, it brings you heartbreakingly close to character Mitch Rapp as he loses the love of his life in a terrorist attack.
But the unique storytelling was short-lived.
Mitch vows revenge, trains to become a counter-terrorism operative, then goes overseas where he encounters shady allies and hunts down a shadowy killer.
Pretty standard stuff.
The performances are what separate American Assassin from other rote spy stories. Michael Keaton – who, as I’ve admitted, I love – plays a fierce, unyielding teacher who holds knives to his recruit’s throats during class. It’s pretty fun to watch.
But Keaton is rivaled on-screen by up-and-coming actor Dylan O’Brien. He brings a realness to the “action hero” role – likeable, relatable, but also unflinchingly kick-ass.
Unfortunately, the two female leads don’t bring as much to the film. They’re tough but one-dimensional and it’s too bad (especially since Shiva Negar performs some admirable stunts in clothing much more challenging than her male counterparts.)
I also found the violence to be a bit much – there’s a torture scene that conjures Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield memories and I hated every moment of it.
Overall, American Assassin is a slick, fast-moving movie with lots of explosions, car crashes, and dead bodies. It's fine, at best - watchable, as long as you're not expecting anything out of the ordinary.
WHAT IS “HONEST REVIEW”?
I’m a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. I interview actors and filmmakers. I’ve worked in broadcast television for 20 years.
I’m also a Seattle wife and mom who works full-time and sits in an hour of traffic (minimum) every day.
Sometimes I’m tired when I screen a movie. Sometimes I’m traveling and I miss my kids. Sometimes I’ve had a glass wine when I should have had a glass of water.
All of these things can impact my reaction to a film. Because I’m human.
So in an effort to write an Honest Review, I’ll always list the external factors that might affect my enjoyment of the movie. Then, I’ll give you my review. Then, you can decide if it’s useful or not.
What do you think of Honest Review or American Assassin? Let me know at @kimholcomb.