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Michael Cuesta
Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan
Writing Credits:
Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz

After terrorists kill his girlfriend, Mitch Rapp gets drawn into the world of counterterrorism, mentored by tough-as-nails former Navy SEAL Stan Hurley.

Box Office:
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$21,384,504 on 3377 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
English Late Night 2.0
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 12/5/2017

• “Target Acquired” Featurette
• “Finding Mitch Rapp” Featurette
• “Transfer of Power” Featurette
• “Weaponized” Featurette
• “In the Field” Featurette
• Alamo Drafthouse Q&A
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


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American Assassin [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 1, 2020)

Back in 1999, Vince Flynn initiated a series of novels about Mitch Rapp, a CIA secret ops agent. A successful franchise, Flynn wrote more than a dozen additional Rapp books, and a new writer took over after Flynn’s death in 2013.

After years of development, the Rapp character leapt to the big screen with 2017’s American Assassin. An origin story, the movie takes us back to Rapp’s beginnings.

On vacation in Ibiza with his girlfriend Katrina Harper (Charlotte Vega), Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) proposes. Katrina accepts but their joy proves short-lived.

A jihadist cell attacks the tourists. This leads to Katrina’s death and a dark spiral for Mitch.

Mitch craves revenge, and he infiltrates terrorist Internet chatter to track down the culprits. Mitch plans to locate them and take them out.

When Mitch attempts to make this happen, US Special Forces destroys the cell. This upsets Mitch, as he feels denied his revenge.

However, Mitch’s path doesn’t end there. After an intensive 30-day debriefing, CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) offers Mitch the chance to join a black-ops unit called “Orion”.

Still eager to take out his anger on the enemy, Mitch agrees, and he enters training with former Navy SEAL Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). We follow Mitch’s path as he goes through this education and further exploits.

It seems likely that the studio hoped Assassin would launch a series of Rapp movies. They probably viewed him as their Jason Bourne, a compelling action hero who’d churn out a bunch of successful flicks.

Alas, audiences had other ideas, as Assassin took in $67 million worldwide, about twice its budget. That means the movie didn’t flop, but those returns didn’t seem likely to encourage them to make more Rapp films.

Based on the evidence at hand, this doesn’t bother me. Assassin never manages to become anything better than one would expect from its generic title.

Some of this stems from the movie’s need to cover so many bases. It devotes much of its first half to Rapp’s basic “origin story”, so that leaves limited room for a more concrete plot.

This may seem less of an impediment than otherwise might occur given the motivation inherent in the tale. Since Mitch signs on explicitly to kill terrorists, the narrative points in a particular direction and may not need the same level of depth as usual.

Still, Assassin barely attempts a plot beyond the aforementioned “kill terrorists”. Whatever nuances and bits of intrigue might pop up fail to do so, and that means we find ourselves left with a cliché tale that we’ve feel like we’ve seen already.

Perhaps if Assassin boasted vivid action beats, it might overcome these drawbacks. Alas, the movie doesn’t engage in that department either.

While it comes with some Bourne-style shenanigans, nothing especially exciting occurs. Shoot shoot, stab stab, punch punch – yadda yadda. You’ve seen it before, and you’ve seen it better.

No one in the cast manages to elevate the material. Keaton slums here and fails to add much to his one-dimensional role.

O’Brien tries his best, but he can’t bring out the internal life necessary. Whereas Rapp needs to display the anger and bitterness that sent him on his violent past, O’Brien remains callow. He feels more like a college bro mad the bar ran out of Michelob than a top-notch secret operative.

To be sure, you can find less effective action tales than Assassin, but that remains a weak recommendation. Little more than a bland collection of violent sequences, the movie lacks much to stand out in a crowded genre.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

American Assassin appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a high-quality presentation.

Sharpness worked well at all times. A little softness hit some interiors, but the movie usually felt well-defined and precise.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. The image also lacked any signs of source defects, so it stayed clean.

In terms of palette, Assassin opted for a standard mix of teal and orange. Though these hues didn’t light up the screen, they made sense for the material and came through as well-rendered.

Blacks seemed dense and dark, whereas shadows looked smooth and clear. I thought the image satisfied.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack offered a strong affair as well. As expected, the movie’s action-oriented scenes fared best, as they used gunfire, aircraft, vehicles and explosions to fill the room in a compelling manner.

The film’s pulsing score used the spectrum well, too, and quieter effects suited the story. These created a nice sense of place and acted to involve the viewer.

Audio quality satisfied, with speech that appeared natural and concise. Music seemed full and rich, with crisp highs and deep bass.

Effects followed suit and created dynamic material, as the various components showed fine range and impact. The movie used the audio well so this became a solid track.

In terms of extras, the disc mostly focuses on featurettes, and we start with Target Acquired, a nine-minute, 54-second piece that offers comments from producers Nick Wechsler and Lorenzo di Bonaventura, author’s widow Lysa Flynn, former publicist Dave Brown, screenwriter Stephen Schiff, director Michael Cuesta, and actors Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, and Taylor Kitsch.

Here we learn about the source novels and path to the screen as well as story/characters, cast/performances, Cuesta’s impact, action and the “R” rating. While not a deep program, “Target” manages a decent intro/overview.

Finding Mitch Rapp spans nine minutes, 53 seconds and features O’Brien, di Bonaventura, Schiff, Cuesta, Kitsch, Flynn, Keaton, Wechsler and actor Shiva Negar.

“Rapp” looks at the lead character and O’Brien’s casting. We get a few useful notes but a lot of the show devotes to praise for the actor.

Next comes Transfer of Power, a 13-minute, 43-second program with di Bonaventura, Keaton, Wechsler, Negar, Cuesta, Kitsch, and O’Brien.

This show examines the Hurley and Ghost characters as well as the casting/performances of Keaton and Kitsch. Like “Rapp”, “Power” mixes insights and fluff.

Weaponized goes for 12 minutes, five seconds and includes notes from Keaton, O’Brien, Negar, di Bonaventura, Wechsler, Cuesta, Kitsch, military advisor Joost Janssen, fight trainer Roger Yuan, stunt coordinator Buster Reeves, and cinematographer Enrique Chediak.

In this clip, we learn about stunts, action and training. It becomes another good but puffy piece.

After this we move to In the Field, a nine-minute, 29-second show that features Cuesta, di Bonaventura, Keaton, O’Brien, Chediak, Kitsch, production designer Andrew Laws, and actor Sanaa Lathan.

“Field” discusses various locations. Expect the usual mix of content and happy talk.

Finally, we find a Q&A. Shot at the Alamo Drafthouse, this fills 26 minutes, five seconds and includes a panel with O’Brien and Kitsch.

The Q&A looks at the actors and their characters/performances as well as other film-related topics. A loose chat, we get a mix of decent thoughts.

The disc opens with ads for The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Stronger, Patriots Day, The Mechanic and Hell or High Water. No trailer for Assassin appears here.

One suspects that the movie’s producers hoped American Assassin would launch the next Bourne-style action franchise. Unfortunately, the film did little to engage audiences, as it provides a cliché, mediocre thriller. The Blu-ray offers very good picture, terrific audio and a mostly interesting set of supplements. Assassin becomes a forgettable effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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