Plot: After his fiancee was gunned down in a horrific terrorist attack, Mitch (Dylan O’Brien) was consumed with vengeance and began an intricate, dangerous plan to settle the score. His goal is to infiltrate the terrorist organization, get close to the leader, and unleash his wrath. He plans to pose as an American traitor and his act is so convincing, he is allowed inside the compound, though his actions have been monitored by the CIA, who followed, then swooped in to take the kill. Mitch is devastated that he wasn’t the one behind the kill, but the CIA offers him a chance to keep the payback train on course and kill many, many more terrorists. Soon he begins to train under Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), who is tasked to turn Mitch into an elite, world class covert ops agent and then set him loose on the bad guys. But before that can be accomplished, a grave issue arises when nuclear materials fall into the wrong hands and Hurley is assigned to help prevent a global disaster. But with Mitch still wet behind the ears and trust in short supply, this could prove to be an impossible task.
Entertainment Value: American Assassin opens with a brutal, memorable terrorist attack that shows real potential, then descends into a mindless action movie faster than you can imagine. The movie makes no effort whatsoever to include logic or common sense, opting for a ridiculous narrative that has no depth and a roster of characters that are quite dull. Of course, I wouldn’t mind these decisions if the action were well done, but even the action is mishandled here. The set pieces are ineffective, from the simple, smaller scale chases to the big, loud, and dumb finale, with a reliance on low end CGI that is astoundingly terrible. Some of the shoot outs have potential, but are reeled by poor focus and CGI blood that distracts more than anything else. If you don’t want to take the time to use squibs in shoot outs, just make them bloodless, at least then the action can speak for itself. Dylan O’Brien is also a rather lackluster action hero, kind of a vanilla presence that doesn’t evoke much response. This is most clear when he interacts with Michael Keaton, as he is overshadowed to an immense degree and in truth, I just wanted more Keaton and less O’Brien here. I did appreciate the relentless, mean spirited tone of the movie, as it racks up a massive body count and never flinches in the process. If this ruthless approach had a better lead and more impressive action scenes, it could have been an awesome flick. As it stands however, American Assassin has little to offer, even to diehard action movie fans.
A brief topless scene is the lone nakedness, but better some than none, right? This movie has a lot of shoot outs and a small army of corpses as a result, but most of the blood is poorly crafted CGI. Like super bright, video game style blood that spurts from gun shots, not fun, splashy squibs, as the lord intended. The blood is so fake looking, it detracts from the violent impact and turns the shoot outs into b movie territory, only not as fun as that sounds. A torture scene late in the movie delivers some fun violence however, with fingernails torn off, a blowtorch broken out, and general brutality. That scene boasts solid effects, so I don’t know why the shoot outs were given such a rushed, cheap looking treatment. So a truckload of violence and CGI blood, but not much bloodshed outside of the cartoon visual effects. The dialogue has some goofy one liners, but otherwise Keaton is the main source of fun, as he goes over the top with his chest thumping patriotism from time to time. Even so, not a lot of memorable moments in this one. I think one point of craziness is earned for the sheer mean spirited, nasty tone of the movie, but really, this one sticks close to the usual action movie cliches and conventions.
Overall Insanity: 1/10