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‘American Assassin’ Misfires

September 25, 2017

The greatest tragedy of this year has not been the unfortunate clothing choices in New York Fashion Week, nor was it Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” music video. You might believe it to be Sean Spicer’s unexpected appearance at the Emmy’s, or Anne Coulter’s tweeting fiasco, but no, the real tragedy was the movie adaptation of American Assassin.

The premise of the movie is fairly basic, as is expected from a movie with the name of American Assassin. The main character, Mitch Rapp, began as a normal guy on vacation with his girlfriend. After proposing to her on a beautiful beach, everything takes a turn for the worse. A group of terrorists attack the resort and kill Rapp’s fiancee.

Over the next 18 months, Rapp starts on a journey for revenge and plans to take out the terrorist cell that killed his fiancee. However, during his training the CIA began surveying him, and Rapp leads them directly to the terrorist cell that facilitated the attack. The CIA swoops in before Rapp can act and kills the person he wanted to assassinate. After this, the CIA recruits him because they see his potential. Rapp then joins an elite team of assassins, headed by Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton, and trains to be a highly efficient killer. Barely two weeks later, the team is sent on a mission to assassinate an arms dealer. This is where the plot devolves into a cliche, action movie nightmare.

The actors in American Assassin were spectacular. The blend of Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch, Sanaa Lathan, and Scott Atkins made sure the movie was visually pleasing. However, the plot left the audience with unanswered questions and an incredibly illogical timeline. For example, on Rapp’s quest for vengeance, he takes it upon himself to train himself  in the art of violence and supposedly becomes extremely good in a short amount of time. The main issue I find with this is picking up skills such as shooting a gun or throwing knives accurately can take a lifetime to perfect, but Rapp became proficient in both after a number of months. He also learned boxing and various martial arts disciplines, all of which would take years to master. This major plot hole made it hard to take Rapp seriously because the timeline of events is highly improbable.

To the audience, Rapp’s training only appears to have lasted a short amount of time, say three weeks. With the time frame not carefully explained in the movie, the audience can only assume that approximately three weeks after the elite team starts their training, they are sent on a highly classified mission that could determine the fate of millions of people. It seems highly improbable that the United States government would send basic novices on such a delicate operation. This overlooked detail only goes to further the confusion caused by the poorly executed plot.

However bad the plot was, the movie made up for it with the whole assassin aesthetic. Dark brooding characters, practical assassin wear, and an absolutely killer soundtrack made  it possible to almost forget the inconsistencies in the plot. The setting of the movie was also beautiful, ranging from forests with tall towering pine trees to attractive European cities contributing to an overall agreeable climate.

I walked into the theater with a limited knowledge of the movie (I had only seen the trailer), and I exited with one resounding thought in my head —  the movie seemed rushed. The director didn’t spend enough time developing the main character and giving him a real backstory that would make sense. Rapp goes from never picking up a gun in his life to being able to shoot a person in the head without looking in such a small amount of time that it made the movie lose authenticity.

About the Writer
Photo of Clementine Larrouilh
Clementine Larrouilh, Horizon Editor in Chief

This is my third year on press, and sadly, my last. When I'm not editing stories or managing reporters you can find me scrolling through Twitter, doing...

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