September kicks off the big fall movie season, with lots of big releases on their way to a theater near you. One release that Lionsgate Films hopes will be the beginning of a new series of spy thrillers is American Assassin, the movie based on the best-selling book by Vince Flynn. The movie follows trained assassin Mitch Rapp’s origin story from a terror attack through his training and eventual unleashing as an elite assassin for the US government.
So what sets this movie apart from other flicks on your “Must See” list this fall? Here’s 10 reasons you should be pumped to see American Assassin:
1. It’s the next great spy thriller franchise
Vince Flynn, the author of American Assassin, published thirteen Mitch Rapp books, six of which were on the NYT bestseller list. There’s a solid body of work to choose from here, and by starting with Mitch’s origin story, there’s still plenty of material to draw from.
2. It’s a spy thriller set within a modern political climate
The American Assassin book takes place in the early 90s. The filmmakers smartly moved the timeline forward so that it could tackle the modern political climate–specifically how muddied the waters of terrorism have become. Gone are the days of Rambo and blind patriotism. The modern climate calls for more subtlety within the world of terror, and American Assassin brings that.
3. Book fans are raving about the movie adaptation
A movie adaptation will never please the fans of the book 100%. It’s just the nature of film adaptation to be an incomplete picture. What is great about American Assassin is that fans of the book are loving the adaptation of one of their favorite characters. One of the most staunch Mitch Rapp fans said this after seeing an early screening:
“To all the book fans, @VinceFlynnFilm [American Assassin] absolutely nailed it. It’s better than I ever could have hoped for… and I hoped for a lot. Wow!”
– @MitchRappFans on Twitter.
The early previews have commented on the departure from the original book plot-wise, but extreme happiness in the movie’s faithfulness to the characters. There shouldn’t be backlash from the film’s casting of the protagonist, a la Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. The Mitch Rapp of the books is an athlete, young, and wiry–Dylan O’Brien fits this role perfectly.
4. Dylan O’Brien is poised to become a superstar
A potential franchise (like American Assassin hopes to be) depends on the plausibility of its lead. Dylan has proven himself capable of leading franchise properties (The young adult dystopian Maze Runner series) already. Now it’s time for him to break out in an adult franchise in a big way. He has the acting chops to support heavy drama (proven through his time on the TV drama, Teen Wolf), and his athletic ability will help him in the action-heavy role of Mitch Rapp. This movie will take him from a teen star to wider audience.
5. The casting is elite
American Assassin isn’t short on acting talent. Alongside O’Brien, the headlining name is Michael Keaton, the film legend whose career is seeing a resurgence thanks to Spotlight, Birdman, and Spiderman: Homecoming. His character in American Assassin is a tough-as-nails black-ops trainer, and it is a great role for Keaton to sink his teeth into (literally). Other top names in the cast include Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, TV’s Friday Night Lights) as Ghost, Sanaa Lathan (Contagion, The Family that Preys) as the CIA Deputy Director, and relative newcomer Shiva Negar as CIA operative Annika.
6. Mitch Rapp’s storyline is compelling
Mitch’s fiancée is killed by terrorists at the start of the movie. What follows is a man figuring out his purpose in a world that has irrevocably changed him. What will he do with his anger? Will he be able to channel his energy into something productive, or will he always be fueled by revenge? It’s a journey that hasn’t been explored in a spy origin story this way before.
7. There’s an interesting Batman/Robin dynamic
The relationship between Stan (Keaton) and Mitch (O’Brien) gives off a “Batman and Robin” vibe–and yes, I recognize the irony. Stan’s education and training of Mitch’s character is the key relationship in the movie. Where it becomes interesting is when a past recruit–one of Stan’s best–turns against him and uses all of the education and training against his mentor. What do you do when the ultimate weapon you created aims his sights on you?
8. Action movie staples get a fresh makeover
There are car chases and fist fights and explosions. But American Assassin takes those traditional action movie tropes and adds new layers to them. The climax features an action sequence never before seen in a movie, and the drama is edge-of-your-seat exciting. Mitch Rapp is an inventive character, and seeing him problem-solve makes for some fun on-screen moments. The film is also unflinchingly violent, a feature brought from the original Vince Flynn novels. There is a particular moment between Stan and the main villain that had my jaw dropping in shock. You’ve never seen this before, either.
9. A top-notch producer and a budding director are a great tag team
Lorenzo di Bonaventura is the name behind some of the largest blockbuster action movies of the last fifteen years. His body of work includes several big-name franchises, of which he is hoping American Assassin will be the start to, as well. He’s a man who knows how to make big movies with big action sequences. Michael Cuesta is a film and TV director who specializes in intense drama and weighty emotional moments (Dexter, Six Feet Under). Combining the two of them together is a one-two punch of goodness.
10. Dylan O’Brien is going to be a HUGE star
Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned him. But his performance is worth mentioning again. He transforms fully into Mitch Rapp in this role, and brings a depth and level of emotion into his character that sets him apart from other spy leads. Fans of O’Brien’s earlier works will recognize his talent, and he should gain an even greater following based on his work in this film. It is worth noting how exceptional the performance is in light of the life-threatening accident he sustained months before shooting began on American Assassin. For him to recover and then deliver the kind of action-packed and emotional performance he delivers in this film is to be commended.
“All the actors are good, but Dylan O’Brien is the heart and soul of this movie. He morphs into Rapp, and it’s so fun to see.”
– @MitchRappFans on Twitter
Are you going to be seeing American Assassin? We can’t wait!
American Assassin will be released in theaters in the US on September 15th.