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While the weirdest movie opening this weekend without a doubt will be mother!, it will still face competition at the box office. Its main opponent will be American Assassin, the adaptation of Vince Flynn's same-named novel that stars Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch, among others. With its release nearly here, reviews for American Assassin are now pouring in, and the reception has been decidedly mixed. Starting off, CinemaBlend's own Conner Schwerdtfeger was lukewarm towards American Assassin in his review, criticizing the movie for its shallow plot, but also praising its technical achievements and two of the leads.
Light on plot but heavy on action, American Assassin is mostly forgettable but works well enough when it focuses on the dynamic between Michael Keaton and Dylan O'Brien.
Variety's Amy Nicholson echoed that sentiment, noting that the American Assassin adaptation is unable to match the grit of Vince Flynn's original book and that the main character, Mitch Rapp, fails to impress.
American Assassin is so close-mouthed and macho that it blends in with Bourne, Bond and Taken's Brian Mills. Rapp can blast his way through Turkey --- but this sullen, swollen hero can't elbow those box office heavyweights to make room.
American Assassin follows Mitch Rapp, who lost his parents in a car crash as a teenager and recently lost his girlfriend to a terrorist attack. Desperate for revenge, he is recruited by the CIA and trained by Michael Keaton's Stan Hurley, and from there, the duo start investigating a wave of attacks on both military and civilian targets that have been ignited by Taylor Kitsch's "Ghost," who wants to start a world war in the Middle East. One of the movie's more favorable reviews came from THR's Sheri Linden, who had issues with the dialogue, but also commended the camerawork and editing.
Built for action, like its title character, the movie packs a muscular, bloody punch, but mainly it's a well-oiled diversion.
...A suitably exciting action film that probably takes itself a little too seriously, American Assassin works best when it's trying to replicate the rhythms of a pulpy page-turner and least when pausing to consider the deeper implications of politics and personal responsibility in a post-9/11 world.
Nevertheless, the negative American Assassin reviews are outweighing the positive ones at this point. Empire's Jonathan Pile awarded the movie two stars out of five, calling it "beyond ludicrous."
An uneven thriller that would have been better served aiming for a lighter tone (and a lower age certificate). There are 15 more Mitch Rapp books, but a sequel feels unlikely.
Overall, it sounds like there are more uneven elements to American Assassin then there are solid ones, but this is by no means a train wreck. If you're looking to kill two hours with an action story, then buy some popcorn and make yourself comfortable in the theater. But if this doesn't sound like your particular cup of tea, you can always see mother! or Brad's Status instead, or even check out/re-watch IT, which opened last weekend and has been dominating the box office.
You can judge American Assassin for yourself when it arrives this Friday. And don't forget to also browse through our movie premiere guide to see what else is being theatrically released for the remainder of 2017.