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American Assassin
U.S.A. 2017

Opening 12 Oct 2017

Directed by: Michael Cuesta
Writing credits: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Vince Flynn
Principal actors: Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Shiva Negar

What shapes someone’s decision-making capability is the basis of this fast-moving espionage thriller. Since early teens Mitch Rapp (O'Brien) has had his share of personal tests, especially in Spain. So, at twenty-three he sets his own agenda that subsequently leads to Stan Hurley (Keaton), via Irene Kennedy (Lathan). Who manages to convince her boss, Central Intelligence Agency’s Director (David Suchet) and Hurly that Rapp deserves a chance. Training is grueling at Hurley’s obscure, asymmetric engagement facility; Orion is about the mission, not personal feelings. International political violence, and an enigmatic rogue (Kitsch), push the agenda forward, taking the team to Istanbul where a field agent joins them. Even with Annika’s (Negar) assistance, they seem to repeatedly be one step behind. Until Rome, where tables turn faster, and gut-instincts outmaneuver orders.

Director Michael Cuesta with a tight script based on Vince Flynn’s 2010 same-titled novel cover American CIA black operatives, Cold War ramifications, and Middle East intrigues. Giving the tired theme a boost is a super cast, good production values, and a hint at tongue-in-cheek humor. As the tough-minded seasoned taskmaster, a compelling Keaton commands his role, while O'Brien and Kitsch deliver great counterbalanced performances of their characters vying behavioral aims. American Assassin prioritizes two individual’s psychological response to adversity opposed to overblown violence. Enrique Chediak’s rich, sweeping cinematography, Steven Price’s mercurial music, and Conrad Buff IV’s measured editing while inserting archival material whisk us from continent to continent.

A CIA counter-terrorism operative, Mitch Rapp’s maverick approach to extreme, aggressive measures in maintaining new-world order is the central point in Flynn’s series of political novels. Our charming agent, his interpretation of “orders from above” plus the intriguing ending presents an easy-to-watch escapade in a most likely emerging franchise. (Marinell Haegelin)

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