The first time I saw a preview of the movie ‘American Assassin’, it had me excited about watching the movie proper, then again, that is what previews do – leave you in a state of anticipation. This was my state of mind, when I sat in the screen, waiting for the movie to begin.
It began with such promise, it is a typical espionage themed movie, with a dash of bildungroman, the plot of the film revolves around the protagonist Dylan O’ Brien, he is called Mitch Rapp in the story. While on holiday, he loses his fiancee to a lethal terrorist attack that left many dead. However he survives the attack, and becomes a one man avenging angel, infiltrating and destroying several terrorist cells, his sheer force of will has him noticed by the CIA and he is recruited in their ongoing fight against terrorism.
My gripe with this one man crusade, is my inability to identify with his cause as a member of the audience, the director Micheal Cuesta fails in his competence, to carry the audience along emotionally, thus we do not feel what the protagonist feels, rather we are left detached and emotionally removed from him. I do not feel his sense of loss when his fiance is murdered at the beach, because, I (like the other members of the audience) am not emotionally invested in her.
The events at the beach should have been pivotal, as it changes the course of Mitch Rapp’s life forever, but it goes over our heads and we are unable to appreciate the importance of that moment, this in my opinion is an error on the part of the director as he doesn’t magnify that part in the plot.
Furthermore the movie is a cliche spy movie, why the word ‘assassin’ is used, instead of ‘spy’, has me scratching my head in perplexity. My understanding of the word assassin, is a person who murderers a prominent person, however he kills no prominent person of note in the movie, save the throng of nameless terrorists or guerrilla fighters he encounters.
The director is so invested in stunts and theatrics,that he ignores the importance of tidying a plot, as it progresses, there is a point of dissonance in the movie, which leaves members of the audience inevitably lost. An instance is where he is recruited by the CIA and trained by the veteran CIA agent Micheal Keaton, who plays the role of Stan Hurley.
One would assume that his recruitment into the CIA, is an opportunity to avenge his murdered girlfriend, rather he is on the hunt for a completely different man, called Ghost (Taylor Kitsch). A villain that members of the audience know nothing about, until the latter part of the movie. Then again we are as dissociated from the villain as we are with the hero. We are also not bowled over by the threat he poses to the US navy, by having in his possession, a nuclear bomb.
Another element in the movie that does it no favours, is the absence of a comic relief. In action movies, comic relief plays a vital role, because it not only temporarily relieve the tension of the audience, but it also intensifies the dramatic action. In American Assassin, there is no whiff of comedy, hence we are bombarded with action scene after action scene, leaving us bored and feeling anti-climatic. Making the plot depreciate in our eyes.
For a movie that had a budget of $33 million, it fell rather short, grossing just $21 million in the box office. With a budget of that magnitude, I am inclined to think that our indigenous movies may have done better and served us a much tighter intriguing plot.
Enjoy the preview folks, because it surpasses the movie.
See Preview Here: