Gotta admit I knew nothing about American Assassin before 30 minutes ago. My far-more-knowledgeable film critic colleague Kaitlyn Booth has not yet returned from making the Kessel Run, and it's been a pretty damn slow post-holiday week so far, I thought I'd take a look.
But the trailer lays out an origin story with which I'm very familiar. Mitch Rapp's parents were both killed when he was a child. The trailer gives the general impression that the family was wealthy, though some googling tells me that it's Mitch's brother who is the millionaire family financial genius here, not his father. A few years later, his girlfriend is killed in a terrorist attack on a beach… somewhere. Cut to scenes of Rapp training himself, planning, and apparently intending to take the law into his own hands by hunting down and killing the terrorist who killed his girlfriend. But instead of donning a cape and cowl, enter the CIA… who knows just what to do with a young man of Rapp's particular set of skills.
In fairness to Vince Flynn, the late author of the 15-book series which features Mitch Rapp, a little googling also makes it obvious that Rapp's backstory has been considerably streamlined for film, presumably to give it that origin-story feel.
Given the tenor of the film, I'd imagine that American Assassin star Dylan O'Brien will be consigned to a fate of being compared to someone who almost took the part — Chris Hemsworth nearly agreed to play the starring role in American Assassin, but couldn't quite squeeze it in amidst all that hammer-slinging in Thor and Avengers. But O'Brien gets it right here, I think, and is ably assisted by prior-generation Batman Michael Keaton, now in the Alfred role of helping to prepare young master Rapp for his life of vengeance — except dropping the butler part and more grizzled CIA veteran.
It all looks like a solid action film though, and I'm a huge Reacher fan so I'm going to jump on kindle later today and grab one of Flynn's books.