Movie Review: Annoying, American Amateurs

American Assassin
Movie Review: Annoying, American Amateurs
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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American Assassin is the most generic action movie you’ll see this year. The action scenes have punches and gunshots, the dialogue is predictable, and every 20 minutes the good guys are in a new city trying to stop the bad guys. And yes, some of the characters are assassinated. By an American.

Director Michael Cuesta helms the action drama adventure about agents trained in a special American unit with no vision or purpose. The film has been in loose development since 2012, and the stagnancy badly shows. Cuesta was so desperate to finish the movie he forgot to figure out a reason for making it.

It’s not cool, edgy or slick. It’s difficult to get excited or invested in the action because audiences are shown short, confusing characters in CIA missions that are never thoroughly explained. Instead of being thrilling and suspenseful, the story is violent, gross, and silly.

The scattered plot follows a young agent Mitch (Dylan O’Brien) being trained to work for the CIA, hunting terrorists who kill innocent civilians in several different countries. Beyond an overlong prologue and expendable comrades, nothing else noteworthy happens. Outside the three main characters, it’s even hard to keep track of what everyone’s name is.

Some technical work here is well produced. Great things, however, are overshadowed by the laziness of other departments in the team. Steven Price’s gripping musical score, for instance, is useless at creating tension when the CGI helicopter on screen looks like it was animated by sixth-grade art students.

Photo: CBS Films.

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Mitch’s mentor and CIA trainer Stan is played affably thin by Michael Keaton in his worst autumn Oscar run yet. He’s played rugged leader characters every September the last few years, including Birdman, Spotlight and The Founder. Not this time, though. This “blockbuster” show is a sad display of him having a little too much fun getting tortured by various terrorists on screen.

Even worse is too-cute-to-be-an-action-star Dylan O’Brien, whose starring character is radical and unlikable. he’s so tense and remorseful we can’t empathize with him. And we certainly don’t want to cheer him on. Even before he becomes an agent and we see him as an average joe, his snarky rudeness makes him irritable to watch for more than ten seconds.

Wait for the coming weeks for better action flicks coming to cinemas. There’s an enormous number of disappointing qualities about American Assassin that’s likely to leave a bad taste in your mouth. The next few weeks will have much stronger anticipated action films like Kingsman 2 and Blade Runner 2049.

For now, the talent both in front and behind the camera is unpleasant to watch on screen and second rate in the field of dramatic thrillers.

American Assassin
1 1/2 out of 4 stars

14A, 111 minutes. Action Drama.
Directed by Michael Cuesta.
Starring Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, David Suchet and Taylor Kitsch.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, and Cineplex Oakville and VIP.

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