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I Took a Shot With "American Assassin"

By Lindsey DeRoche; A&E Editor
On September 29, 2017

I Took a Shot With "American Assassin" 

Lindsey DeRoche

A&E Editor 


Throughout America’s cinematic career, certain tropes have proven to lure spy-based action film audiences to purchase tickets at movie theatres, or reconfigure their Netflix queue. Blockbusters such as the Jason Bourne trilogy and the Mission Impossible series seem to have set precedents for movies that have the words “spy,” “agent,” or “assassin” in the titles.

Firstly, take a troubled American agent, and put them in a situation where their goal seems unattainable, then, add shoot-outs, car chases, and a fight for the “greater good.” If you follow this formula, voila! You have yourself a 2000 era-esque American spy film.

Despite how tired the tropes, which are now intrinsic in the genre, may be, they still work for me, when done right. I took a chance, and went to see Michael Cuesta’s "American Assassin," which came out on September 15th.

In the first ten minutes of the film, the plot content is intense. Violence is a heavy-hitting main theme throughout the entire film. It even repeatedly utilizes the technique in which it looks as if blood is actually splattering on the camera lens.

Violence and emotional pain pervaded my psyche as it was projected onto the viewer before I was even completely settled, setting the tense and action-infused tone right away.

CIA agent Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien, is riddled with regret and guilt from his past, which fuels the vendetta that he sets out to deal with, one way or another, throughout the film. While under the wing, as well as tutelage of, enigmatic ex-Navy SEAL Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton, the two, along with a few others on their small team, set out to save lives and race against the clock to stop a ruthless former pupil of Hurley’s, who also has his own vendetta to settle.

Though some of the cliché American spy movie tropes were used for this film, I still found myself completely immersed. The film has a runtime of one hour and 52 minutes, and I never once found my thoughts trailing off to the rest of the homework I had to do, or how much longer the movie was going to run for.

I credit my immersion to a sense of ever-present tension and edge-of- your-seat action. There were many times when I felt as uncomfortable and riddled with stress as the characters, though they had much larger problems on their plate than me.

For the most part, I found the acting to be believable and well-done. Michael Keaton’s performance as tough-as-nails Stan Hurley stood out the most; he brought Hurley to life with a believable way about him, which most people would not want to mess with.

A slight disappointment for me lied in part of Dylan O’Brien’s performance as CIA agent Mitch Rapp. While I must give him credit for doing a phenomenal job at portraying a man haunted by a past of guilt and pain, and hell bent on making those who deserve to pay do so, I did not find myself overly drawn to him.

Characters with a checkered past and a willingness to do “whatever it takes” always interest me. I just feel like I did not get to know Rapp’s character enough beyond his call to “take out the bad guys.”

Despite my qualm with how much I felt like I did not fully know Agent Rapp, I still enjoyed the film. There was never a dull moment, I was fully immersed and both the plot and performance held my interest for the entire hour and 52 minutes.

Overall, I would give "American Assassin" the grade of “B.” It was not groundbreaking or phenomenal, but it was certainly not bad. It was still more than merely watchable, and had an interesting plot.

If you are a film buff who would not want to spend your time watching a movie that does not completely impress you, you probably want to wait for this film to come out on Netflix or Redbox. But, if you love movies, and are looking for almost two hours of spy-esque entertainment that is pretty good, you might want to go to your nearest theatre and buy a ticket.

The choice is yours as to whether or not you will take a shot with "American Assassin." 


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