AMERICAN ASSASSIN is based on a series of popular spy thrillers by the late Vince Flynn. Mitch Rapp is a handsome American college graduate who swears revenge against the Islamic terrorist cell who killed his beloved bride-to-be. While trying to infiltrate the terrorist cell behind the attack, Mitch is picked up by a team from the CIA. They followed Mitch to kill the terrorists and bring him back to America. The CIA’s female deputy director offers to make Mitch an assassin dedicated to killing terrorists. He agrees, but his first assignment after undergoing training has hidden challenges.
AMERICAN ASSASSIN is a non-stop action thriller. It tells a compelling story that moves along at an engaging pace. The filmmakers have crafted appealing versions of the main characters in Vince Flynn’s novels. As Mitch Rapp, Dylan O’Brien delivers a passionate performance. He’s ably assisted by a spirited Michael Keaton as his no-nonsense mentor and CIA handler. AMERICAN ASSASSIN has a strong moral, patriotic worldview, marred by gratuitous foul language, extreme violence and brief nudity. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for AMERICAN ASSASSIN.
(BB, PP, LLL, VVV, NN, A, D, M) Strong moral, patriotic worldview about a young man who becomes a CIA assassin targeting terrorists after some terrorists murder his bride-to-be; about 62 obscenities, six strong profanities and six light profanities; very strong and strong violence includes images of small bloody gunshot wounds, man wounded in leg, torture scene where two fingernails are pulled out, and villain slices man’s chest with a knife and then uses welding torch to inflict pain, torture victim has bloody wounds on his face, and his left arm is in a vice, while his right arm is held above with a chain, torture victim defies his tormentor by biting his lower ear and chewing it and spitting the pieces at his tormentor, explosions, gun battles, point blank shootings, car chase, man rolls over hood of car, man choked unconscious, people stabbed, intense martial arts type wrestling and fighting and punching, fighting instructor shows trainees how to stab a man to death quickly in the neck, terrorists mercilessly shoot tourists dead, and it’s implied terrorist fires his machine gun at wounded young woman to finish her off; no sex; brief image of upper female nudity in an apartment as woman wearing an open negligee looks at her face in a mirror, some female cleavage at beach, and images of upper male nudity; brief alcohol use; smoking but no drugs; and, revenge but rebuked along the way, especially in one scene talking about having a “higher calling.”
The late thriller writer, Vince Flynn, was one of the most popular (and best) thriller writers in recent years. Before his untimely death in 2013, he wrote two prequels featuring his signature American hero, Mitch Rapp. The first of these novels told the story of how Rapp became America’s top agent fighting Islamic terrorists after his fiancée was killed in the Lockerbie plane bombing in 1988 ordered by Libya’s former strongman, Muammar Qaddafi.
The new AMERICAN ASSASSIN movie is a Hollywood update of that story, now set in the present day. It details how Rapp is trained to be a black ops assassin for the CIA after his fiancée is killed in an Islamic terrorist attack on tourists enjoying the beach in Dubai. Mitch’s first assignment? Assist his mentor and handler, a tough CIA warrior named Stan Hurley, with stopping an Iranian general from getting hold of a plutonian nuclear bomb made out of material stolen from the Russians.
The movie begins on that beach, where Mitch proposes to his girlfriend, Katrina. She says yes, so Mitch goes to get a couple drinks from the bar to celebrate the engagement. While he’s getting the drinks, however, a group of Muslim terrorists starts shooting at the crowd. Mitch is shot twice, but the terrorists kill Katrina dead.
Eighteen months later, Mitch has trained himself to infiltrate the same Muslim terrorist cell in Tripoli, Libya. He plans to kill the leader and any other terrorist there he meets in the process. However, Mitch is being tracked by the CIA, which sends a team to follow Mitch and kill the terrorists during Mitch’s first meeting with their leader.
The Deputy Director of the CIA, Irene Kennedy, believes Rapp has great potential for being part of the agency’s relatively new black ops group, called Orion, led by career agent Stan Hurley. Reluctantly, the CIA director and Hurley agree to give him a chance, though Hurley thinks Rapp is too much of a maverick and will wash out during the training.
Rapp proves him wrong, however. Soon, they find themselves in Istanbul Turkey, where a Turkish arms dealer is helping a disgruntled Iranian general produce a nuclear bomb from some stolen Russian plutonium. The general wants to use it on Israel. What Rapp and Hurley don’t know is that Hurley’s former protégé, a disgruntled assassin gone rogue named Ghost, is also involved. What’s even worse is that Ghost has his own secret agenda, an agenda that will threaten many American lives.
AMERICAN ASSASSIN is a non-stop action thriller. It tells a compelling story that moves along at an engaging pace. Portraying Mitch Rapp is young Dylan O’Brien from THE MAZE RUNNER. Though leaner than the hero in Vince Flynn’s books, O’Brien brings the appropriate passion and independence to his portrayal that matches Flynn’s hero, who doesn’t care about bureaucratic rules if they get in the way of the mission he’s assigned. Michael Keaton also stars in the movie as Stan Hurley, where he shows new range as the super-tough, no-nonsense veteran. Sanaa Lathan plays another beloved character from the books, CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy. She nails the character, a strong, commanding leader devoted to justice, which includes removing the bad guys wherever possible.
AMERICAN ASSASSIN contains more objectionable content than the books. It has significantly more foul language. However, like the books, it doesn’t shy away from a realistic portrayal of the violent world in which its characters operate. At the same time, the movie doesn’t wallow in extreme violence. Even so, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for the movie’s foul language and more extreme violence. There’s also a shot of upper female nudity during a scene just before the hero invades the Turkish arms dealer’s apartment as the arms dealer returns home to his girlfriend.
Despite the rogue American assassin added to the original novel, AMERICAN ASSASSIN maintains the patriotic, heroic flavor of the books. During one of Hurley’s warnings to Rapp about taking things too personally, Hurley admonishes the hero that revenge isn’t a good motive for the things they have to do in order to protect the United States and the world. We must have a “higher calling,” Hurley says. That’s why patriotism is the key motive behind their work, he adds.
In addition to patriotism and protecting American lives, AMERICAN ASSASSIN promotes justice, stopping evildoers (see Romans 13) and saving one’s comrades in arms, even if you endanger yourself. The latter ideal is something Rapp teaches Hurley, the hard-bitted CIA agent who’s been trained to leave a fellow spy behind if he’s been captured.
If Hollywood wants to make more Mitch Rapp movies, AMERICAN ASSASSIN is off to a good start. Hopefully, the sequels will be even better, with much less gratuitous foul language.
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