American Assassin (2017)


  • Directed by Michael Cuesta
  • Starring Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton
  • Written by Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch
  • Action
  • Rated R
  • 1hr 52min
  • 15 September 2017


After Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), and American tourist, loses the love of his life in a terror attack in Ibiza, Spain, he decides to take down terrorism from the inside. After his attempt fails,  he discovers he’s been watched by the CIA all this time when they recruit him to train for some serious shadow ops, training which is headed by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton).

How’s the Story?

The story is pretty bare bones but serviceable. It has potential that is never reached in the film, but overall, it’s your standard post-9/11 action movie about terrorists and the lone agents with a bone to pick trying to take them down. I think that it could have been a really good movie if not for things I’ll get to in just a few paragraphs down.

How’s the Acting?

The acting is actually really good. I’m not too shocked, because both Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton are well known to be amazing actors, but I am a little shocked just because usually the best actors don’t reach their potential in a movie that’s struggling so badly like this one. Again, this movie had SO MUCH potential, especially with two really amazing actors at the helm. O’Brien’s performance is standard O’Brien. This guy is just really freaking good. The fact this kid got his first job because of who his dad is and ended up being better than some of the most well-trained actors out there is still a stunner to me.

And Michael Keaton is Michael Keaton. Enough said.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

This is where EVERYTHING GOES WRONG! This is quite easily the worst-written script of any movie I’ve seen all year and I’ve seen a lot of stupid-funny comedies. This is written like a parody but directed and acted like a serious action movie. I almost feel like the writers handed a spoof-movie script over to the director and didn’t bother telling him that it wasn’t a serious script and before they could get around to it, they had already cast great actors and got to work on a serious movie, so there wasn’t time for rewrites.

The dialogue is the worst. It’s just so incredibly bad. There are so many times where someone does that totally unrealistic, ridiculous “I’m gonna explain everything in dialogue in a way that’s entirely unnatural for who I’m talking to” thing. One part is literally two people talking alone together and he’s like, “Listen *Lady’s Full Name And Title*, *Full Name Of Team* is a secret team that only you and I know about, because we are the heads of recruiting for it.” I’m not even exaggerating. It’s that bad.

The way it’s directed is actually pretty good, but the writing is so bad I’m not sure why it’s directed well. The general choice in delivery of such shitty lines is pretty solid, which is a miracle, because almost nobody can make terrible writing not horribly acted and delivered.

How’s the Cinematography?

Again, I really like the way this movie is shot. There are a lot of standard action movie choices made, but there are a lot of shots that aren’t standard action movie fare. There are some wonderful moments where the camera moves in a way that is very enjoyable and not what you would expect and it really helps spruce up a this film to have it visually appealing when the dialogue is so horrible it makes me want to cry.

Is It Worth Watching?

If you are a fan of Dylan O’Brien or Michael Keaton, this one is far from either of their worst work, but honestly? Otherwise, no, not really. It’s just not good. It isn’t as bad as I heard it was nor is it as good as I heard it was, it’s just a very badly written movie that somehow has pretty good everything else. I have no idea what happened. I cannot for the life of me understand how this movie came to be what it is. I’m almost speechless over how good the acting is and how interesting the cinematography is juxtaposed with how tragically horrific the writing is.

This may be my first ‘I don’t really recommend this film’ of 2017, I’m not sure, but there it is.

My Rating: 5/10 (for the acting alone, otherwise it would definitely be lower)

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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