American Assassin: an efficient Friday night popcorn flogger

eOne Films

American Assassin is now screening.

American Assassin (R16, 112 mins) Directed by Michael Cuesta ★★★½

I don't want for much these days from the movies I see. I just like them to do what the poster and the trailer are promising. 

I like my horror movies to horrify me (hands up anyone who was actually scared during It...thought so), I like my comic book superhero movies to make me feel like a 10-year-old again. And I like my big, dumb thrillers to deliver me a share of big, dumb thrills.

So when I bowl along of a weekday morning to a film called American Assassin, despite what the online commentators might believe, I'm not expecting art, insightful social critique, or repressed ballet dancers filmed in tasteful black-and-white. All I'm hoping for – by a staggeringly loose definition of the word "hoping" – is a film that delivers what it appears to be offering to the people who really want to see it. Which in the case of American Assassin – I've sat through the trailer for months now – would be a body count getting near three figures, a couple of acceptably choreographed shoot-outs, car chases and a cast of familiar and less-familiar faces bellowing hilariously macho dialogue during the infrequent moments in which they're not actually trying to kill each other.

And, at all of that American Assassin delivers just what it says it will. So ka pai for that, and you'll hear no words of complaint from Mrs Tuckett's boy Graeme.

If you think American Assassin is the kind of film you want to see, then you're going to enjoy it.

If you think American Assassin is the kind of film you want to see, then you're going to enjoy it.

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Well, not many anyway. I mean, I could have an almighty whinge about the treatment of women in American Assassin. Or the extraordinarily Trumpian worldview it espouses. Or how Michael Keaton is the only actor on screen who seems capable of giving his character any more emotional depth than you might expect out of a GI Joe installment. Or even how the final five minutes of American Assassin doesn't so much jump the shark as hurdle the entire American sixth fleet with room to spare.

But all of that would seem petty. American Assassin delivers the plot the trailer hints at with nary a twist coming you won't see a mile off. It is an efficient, occasionally spectacular and mostly not-too-insulting Friday night popcorn flogger of the type film companies live off in the weeks between the mega-budget blockbusters.

Director Michael Cuesta is well-established safe pair of hands with years of high-end American TV behind him.

Whether you watch American Assassin on a decent-sized screen – I would – or wait for it to turn up online or on TV, if you think it's a film you want to see, I reckon you'll probably be right. 

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Michael Keaton chats about going up against Dylan O'Brien in American Assassin.

 - Stuff


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