Dec 072017
 

American Assassin doesn’t manage to standout amongst the numerous other espionage thrillers out there and yet I found it entertaining mostly for the cast, namely Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton, not to mention relative newcomer Shiva Negar, more so than the plot.

 

 

American Assassin
(2017)

Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Action, Adventure
Lionsgate | R – 112 min. – $42.99 | December 5, 2017

Date Published: 12/07/2017 | Author: The Movieman

 


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Michael Cuesta
Writer(s): Vince Flynn (novel); Stephen Schiff and Michael Finch and Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Shiva Negar, David Suchet, Navid Negahban, Scott Adkins
DISC INFO:
Features: Featurettes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2
Audio (4K): English (Dolby Atmos), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Audio (BD): English (Dolby Atmos), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 2.40
Video (BD): 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K), MPEG-4 AVC (BD)
Region(s): A, B, C

 


THE MOVIE — 3.25/5


American Assassin is a suspense-thriller based on the novel by the late Vince Flynn, a name I’m familiar with but never have read any of his books (I’m more of a John Sandford fan myself). This adaptation seems a bit along the lines of those Tom Clancy ‘Jack Ryan’ films that Paramount tried three times to make happen (played by Alec Baldwin/Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine) before going the TV route. This is more of the same, in fact some reminded me of The Sum of All Fears, a film I actually kind of enjoyed, so I guess it’s no surprise I found this mostly entertaining as well.

The plot revolves around Mitch Rapp (DYLAN O’BRIEN), a young man whose fiancée was gunned down, amongst others, on a beach by terrorists. 18 months later, Rapp has turned vigilante, attempting to gain entrance into ISIS or Al Quada (whichever, I don’t think they say which one) in order to meet and exact vengeance on the man responsible for his love’s death. But before he can do so, Special Forces intervene killing the man themselves, in a rescue mission after Rapp is captured and probably was going to be SOL.

Rapp is taken in by the CIA with Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (SANAA LATHAN) sees potential in him and seeing they had been monitoring his activities, knowing full well his fiery against terrorists, believes he can be an asset for a top secret counterintelligence unit known as Orion. Along with several others, Rapp must undergo training by tough-as-nails, ex-Navy SEAL, Stan Hurley (MICHAEL KEATON), whose not so high on this young recruit. So, Rapp and company, including a character named Victor (SCOTT ADKINS), who himself is not too thrilled with the hard-headed Mitch.

After the Orion group gets dwindled down to just Rapp and Victor, they are placed into action to Istanbul, along with Turkish agent Annika Ogden (SHIVA NEGAR), after weapons grade nuclear material has gone missing from a decommissioned nuclear facility and the possessor, a man known only as “Ghost” (TAYLOR KITSCH), who happens to be a former Orion member himself, is in need of a nuclear physicist in order to make it into a weapon, one that is to go into the hands of Iranian hardliners.

I think you get the gist, there’s a ticking clock element and our heroes must save the day before it’s too late.

American Assassin isn’t a smart suspense-thriller like The Bourne franchise (well, the first three anyway) or as smooth in its stunt work like Casino Royale, but I got to admit, for all that is bad — some CGI was awful, Keaton chewing the scenery in some spots and a finale seemingly coming from Roland Emmerich’s Geostorm — I still enjoyed the hell out of this film for what it is.

First, what works are the casting of Dylan O’Brien far away from his roles in The Maze Runner franchise and physically has changed into at least a believable black-ops agent and Michael Keaton, well, is Michael fucking Keaton. Yeah, there is a scene where he gets a bit too over-the-top, but he and his character is such a bad ass, any scene he was in was a treat to watch, shame there isn’t a movie centered on his Stan Hurley character. I also thought Shiva Negar wasn’t bad in her small but important role.

As for what doesn’t, Taylor Kitsch isn’t exactly a formidable foe and his actions were rather lame with motives I’ve seen countless times before. But as a standard espionage-thriller villain, fine I guess and not entirely Kitsch’s fault, though a stronger actor (Tom Hardy for instance) could’ve made a difference.

The film was directed by Michael Cuesta, a name I’m not entirely familiar with but has a long line of credits… on television mostly, including the reason he likely was chosen for American Assassin, helming several episodes of Homeland (he also served as an executive producer of the first two seasons). And his directing style is alright I suppose but don’t go look for anything all that creative, on the other hand, you also won’t get the Greengrass shaky-cam that plenty hated either. So win?

In the end, American Assassin is by no means a great movie and probably has more in common with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit than The Bourne Identity or Clear and Present Danger. Even so, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained throughout the two hour running time.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5


This release comes with a glossy slip cover and inside is a Digital HD Copy redemption code. All the features are on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray discs.

Target Acquired: Creating an American Assassin (9:54; HD) – This featurette goes into getting the Vince Flynn novel onto the big screen dating back several years ago and settling into adapting American Assassin. Including interviews with the producers as well as Flynn’s widow.

Finding Mitch Rapp: Dylan O’Brien (9:53; HD) looks at the casting of O’Brien and why he was chosen for the main role and potential lead for a franchise.

Transfer of Power: Hurley and Ghost (13:43; HD) delves into the casting of Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch respectively, and get to hear from the men as well as the crew and fellow cast members.

Weaponized: Training and Stunts (12:05; HD) takes viewers behind-the-scenes with the cast, and stunt men, discussing the training and stunt work regiment.

In the Field: Locations (9:29; HD) looks at the variety of exotic locales the production went to including Istanbul, Rome and London amongst other places.

Alamos Drafthouse Q&A (26:05; HD) has Dylan O’Brien and Taylor Kitsch answering various questions following a screening of the film.

Previews (Blu-ray): The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Stronger, Patriot’s Day, The Mechanic, Hell or High Water

 


4K VIDEO – 4.5/5, BD VIDEO – 4.5/5


Lionsgate unleashes the American Assassin onto the 4K format presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2160p high-definition transfer (HEVC/H.265 codec) and although I don’t consider this the prettiest looking picture on the new-ish format with some softer images in some places, detail in other shots are decent while colors were alright but hardly brilliantly bright either. Black levels though did look pretty good never appearing crushed. The 1080p Blu-ray is pretty much the same, perhaps not as sharp by comparison but putting this against other recent Blu-rays, it does hold up well.

4K/BD AUDIO – 4.75/5


Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs comes with a Dolby Atmos track and it certainly sounds fantastic, albeit for a suspense/thriller, it is on the limited side with a fair portion relegated to the center channel for dialogue and ambient noises, however there is some nice depth with a variety of gunfire and the track ratchets up for the insane, and admittedly inane, finale. As a whole, it’s probably not quite reference quality as there are other 4K releases that were better, but this is still more than respectable.

 


OVERALL – 3.5/5


Overall, American Assassin doesn’t manage to standout amongst the numerous other espionage thrillers out there and yet I found it entertaining mostly for the cast, namely Dylan O’Brien and Michael Keaton, not to mention relative newcomer Shiva Negar, more so than the plot. This 4K/BD combo pack offers up great video and audio transfers and some okay bonus material.

 

 

 

 

Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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