Complete A-Z list

American Assassin


Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, David Suchet, Taylor Kitsch, Navid Negahban, Scott Adkins, Charlotte Vega, Joseph Long, Mohammad Bakri, Tolga Safer, Khalid Laith, Sharif Dorani, Vladimir Friedman, Shahid Ahmed

Director: Michael Cuesta

With 15 novels that made it to the New York Times best-sellers list, it was inevitable that creator Vince Flynn's thriller series 'starring' CIA Black Ops agent Mitch Rapp would eventually catalyse a movie. And here it is, with Dylan O'Brien as the eponymous killer/hero in a brisk, bloody and brutal action thriller that, shorn of its tsunami of four-letter words and bone-grinding brutality, might well serve as a pilot for a TV action series.

Four screenwriters (Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz) and Cuesta see to it that the show starts off romantically before murder and mayhem set in with O'Brien ("This man is different") proposing to his fiancée Vega in the sea at Ibiza. So far, so sun-and-sea-soaked and romantic – until Vega is shot dead by terrorists.

A year and a half later and determined to avenge Vega's murder, O'Brien – having quit college and trained himself in Arabic, gunmanship and Martial Arts – is brutally inducted into Black Ops by Keaton ('Never let it get personal') and, after gruelling training, is sent to save the world after the theft of high-grade plutonium from the Russian which is intended to be used in bomb form to trigger off WW3 in the Middle East'

Sensibly Cuesta (well served by cinematographer Enrique Chediak) concentrates on frequent fast-moving thrills, chills, action and suspense rather than trying stablish a credible narrative, sensibly decorating the story with plenty of attractive location filming to help make the show easy on the eyes rather than attempting to create an intellectually credible storyline.

O'Brien ('His psych profile is exactly what I have been looking for') does everything a taller-than-Tom-Cruise hero needs to do, with Keaton (whose picture-perfect Hollywood-style teeth indicate that Special Ops must pay really well considering the brutally high cost of dental treatment in the USA) giving a memorable performance, notably in a all-too-credible torture sequence guaranteed to scare cinemagoers' nerves as his perfect teeth come under vicious attack'

Sequels are surely guaranteed.

Alan Frank

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
111 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 18 Sep 2017