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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Mitch was a guy in love. You couldn't help but read it on his face. As he splashed in the ocean waves that fateful day with his beautiful love, Katrina, any passerby would instantly recognize how openly, unabashedly love-struck this young American guy was. It was so evident that when he shyly held up a ring for her in invitation, and she enthusiastically accepted with a kiss, that the other beach loungers nearby couldn't help but applaud.

That was 18 months ago.

Now, Mitch isn't such a loving guy. He isn't shy, or gushing, or, well, anything like he was back then. At all. When Islamic terrorists rushed in on that Spanish beach with guns blazing, everything good in Mitch was obliterated in the bloody aftermath. All that remains now is rage.

These days Mitch constantly hammers his body. He pushes his will. He sharpens his aim and reflexes. He's determined to make himself into a weapon: a weapon that can reap revenge in the blink of an eye. Mitch will find Katrina's killers, and he will butcher them. And then he'll move on to find and butcher others like them.

Quite simply, Mitch is now a man on a mission, a man without a heart and with no need for a soul.

Positive Elements

Mitch eventually gets recruited by the CIA and put into a Special Ops program. And even though he's repeatedly told not to form any emotional attachments, Mitch and his older mentor, Stan Hurley, forge a rough-edged bond.

Hurley tells his charge, "Patriotism exists because people like you and like me need a higher cause." Indeed, both men eventually put their lives on the line for each other and for America. Other agents risk death in service to their country, too.

Spiritual Content

Mitch name-checks important Islamic religious figures while working his way into a terrorist cell. Several terrorists talk about the "will of Allah." We hear a passing, metaphorical reference to the "second coming."

Sexual Content

A topless woman looks at herself in a bathroom mirror, then walks around an apartment in a loose, flowing robe. We see bikini-clad women on a beach, including close-ups of Mitch's fiancé, Katrina. An undercover agent named Annika wears a low cut, form-fitting dress.

Violent Content

This extremely violent film features everything from a truly massive explosion to bloody run-and-gun firefights, from up-close mano a mano melees to acts of horrific torture.

Many people are shot—in the head, throat, chest and legs—with blood repeatedly spraying the camera lens. When terrorists attack a beach area, scores of innocents get mowed down and sent flying by the impact of high-caliber bullets. A bullet hits Katrina in the chest, leaving behind a gaping, gushing wound. A terrorist finishes her off at point-blank range.

Knives are savagely driven into necks. Men get run over by a speeding car, and we see them broken and battered beneath that vehicle's wheels. A female agent is beaten, choked and nearly drowned. Mitch gets choked by a wire, slashed with a knife, pummeled with blunt weapons and shot. Still another agent bleeds to death after being stabbed. One character has his eyes gouged out. A prisoner is covered in gasoline and has a lit cigarette shoved into his mouth (though we don't see what happens next). Another has a knife jammed into his foot. A man displays torture scars all over his body.

And we're not done yet. A viscerally wince-inducing scene involves a man being tortured. His fingernails get ripped out with pliers. His chest is sliced open, then cauterized with a blowtorch. While standing in a tub of water he's nearly electrocuted. His arm gets horribly squeezed in a steel vice. He, in turn, bites off his torturer's ear and chews it.

[Spoiler Warning] After a nuclear device detonates underwater, tsunami-like waves batter a fleet of Navy ships, capsizing some.

Crude or Profane Language

About 30 f-words and more than a dozen s-words join multiple uses of "b--tard," "d--n," "b--ch," "a--" and "h---." God's and Jesus' names are misused about a dozen times total, with God's being combined with "d--n" on three occasions.

Drug and Alcohol Content

After proposing to Katrina, Mitch goes to get drinks at a beachside bar. Hurley smokes.

Other Negative Elements

Mitch steals a car. Special Ops trainees get hit with repeated electrical shocks during one session, causing one man to vomit.

Conclusion

Since James Bond first sipped his signature shaken, not stirred martini, careened through his first spy-guy car chase and landed that initial big-screen blow to a baddy's solar plexus, slick international thrillers have become ever slicker, ever faster and ever more poundingly visceral.

Director Michael Cuesta has applied that well-worn template to this undercover vengeance tale. American Assassin is a thriller with a sleek, hard and bloody sheen. And star Dylan O'Brien's emotionally wounded protagonist is someone we might even empathize with … at least initially.

The problem is that this pic doesn't really know what to do with its protagonist's passion for bloody retribution—and there's a lot of it here. And if all you've got is a blender full of overheated rage—with stirred-in bits of exploding profanity, bloody carnage, flesh-rending torture and a bit of nudity—the end result can't help but be a sloppy cinematic cocktail.

One that even Bond would likely push away.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Dylan O'Brien as Mitch Rapp; Michael Keaton as Stan Hurley; Taylor Kitsch as Ghost; Sanaa Lathan as Irene Kennedy; Charlotte Vega as Katrina; Shiva Negar as Annika

Director

Michael Cuesta ( )

Distributor

CBS Films

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

September 15, 2017

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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