Michael Keaton again reigns. He steals scenes by turning away from the camera and by adding humor when his nails are pulled out in his torture sequence. American Assassin is about counterterrorism. The back story of the CIA, FBI. Keaton runs a boot camp for training counterterrorists. His men will go battle against terrorists who are plotting to start a World War. A nuke has been stolen and Keaton and Company are going to get it. His company includes a charming Dlyan O’Brien who at 23 leads the novice pack and who has survived witnessing the death of his fiancée by terrorists in front of him. O’Brien has the sensitive good looks of a young Tony Perkins and a similar intensity. Taylor Kitsch is the villain and great fun to watch. These three are ordered around by Sanaa Lathan who is Boss Lady and, my, it is refreshing to have a woman tell men what to do. Especially these men. Well, they don’t always listen to her or to Michael Keaton who is top dog under her. O’Brien is the puppy of the pack who saves the day by disobeying orders. Shiva Negar plays a double agent who switches sides more often than her undies.
Mike Cuesta directs this fast paced, no time for a trip to the bathroom, film. I felt like a second cousin to this film when I watched credits. I recalled Cuesta as an old timer who directed commercials in NY when I was doing them and Keaton as a fledgling star in Hollywood in the early 80s when at a party he asked me for a ride home. He’s come a long way, baby. In those days starlets were flesh with appendages, but today he has character and gravitas and I’m so happy for his becoming a grown up. His performances are becoming magical.
If you like shoot ‘em ups and fast paced action set against an international backdrop, this film’s for you. If violence repulses you, stay home. But I enjoyed it and though it is predictable at times, the actors and production values keep your interest. It is based on the #1 NY Times Best Seller and undoubtedly will be a huge box office draw. Why not?