We have a new spy/assassin into the already well trodden market. The big question is does American Assassin add something different? And can it compete with a Bourne or a Bond.
The answer is yes and no. Firstly this film does not have the budget or the plethora of stars like many popular spy and assassin films but does have a proven quality. The backstory of Mitch or “Rapp” as he is affectionately known is a refreshing take on the cliche revenge story.
The film begins with Mitch (played Dylan O’Brien) on vacation with his girlfriend. Using POV camera phone footage we see him propose to Kattie (played by Charlotte Vega) when a terrorist cell attacks the beach killing Kattie in front of him.
We then get a flash forward to present day where Mitch has become hell bent on revenge and trained in different combat skills. He eventually manages to meet the Jihadi cell in Libya who killed his fiancé. Before he is able to fulfill his plan to avenge her death the cell is taken out by the U.S military.
From here is taken in by the CIA who sent him to be trained by Hurley (played by Michael Keaton). During his training we learn that Russian weapons grade plutonium has been stolken as is being sold to the highest bidder by a mysterious character played by Taylor Kitsh.
Hurley, Mitch and their team begin their mission to intercept and stop the sale of the potential nuclear weapon. As they begin to intercept the sale to Iranian officials Ghost (Taylor Kitsh) kills a member of the team and escapes with the plutonium.
The team manage to intercept communication that the Iranians are in contact with a scientist to create the bomb. An operative there named Annika played by Shiva Negan is caught by Mitch as a double agent when she names Ghost without been informed by Mitch. She is shown to be an Iranian agent is taken away.
As Hurley meets a friend from the Iranian government he learns that Annika is his friends niece before being ambushed by Ghost and captured whilst his friend is killed. As news reaches the team Mitch frees Annika and hunts down Ghost and Hurley.
Ghost is shown to have been trained by Hurley and then abandoned when captured on a mission. He tortures Hurley before betraying the Iranians, killing them and stealing the bomb.
Annika and Mitch arrive and are able to save Hurley and kill many of Ghosts men. Annika commits suicide when captured by Ghost, who then escapes on a boats and heads towards the U.S navy fleet. Before he can get close to the fleet Mitch is able to kill him and throw the bomb overboard nullifying the effects of the nuclear weapon. The film then ends with him hunting after he potential Iranian leader who is hell bent on destroying America.
This film is extremely well crafted on a smaller budget than most blockbusters. What is refreshing about this film is that it does not rely on massive action sequences that rely on CGI. Instead the car chases and fight scenes look and feel real with no reliance on music or over the top stunts. This gives the film a sense or authenticity that many Hollywood films lack.
Where this film lets itself down is in the final act. After the majority of the film where the action feels real the ending is an over the top hash with poor CGI at feels like it belongs in a tv film or sci fi special film. This really detracts from what was building up to be a very solid and well made film.
The characters although flawed at times are believable and are more realistic than a bond or bourne. Unsurprisingly Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsh give stand out performances and really carry the film.
The backstory of Mitch seeking revenge but failing is a nice change to the usual ordinary person seeking revenge film. Instead his failure and then coercion to join the CIA feels like a fresh idea.
Overall I would rate this film 3 out of 5 stars. It is a promising and well delivered film considering its budget. However, the final act is truly disappointing and belongs in a poorly made sci fi special such as Sharknado not a serious revenge and spy thriller.