Being in production since the mid-2000's, Vince Flynn's novels and his character Mitch Rapp has been screaming for a film since his "on-book" debut. Since his second novel, Vince Flynn has featured Rapp as the main character of his books, much to the delight of his readers that have connected so much to the character. A modern-day Jason Bourne, Mitch Rapp is the top operative in the Central Intelligence Network Agency, dealing with modern day terrorists that threaten the security of the world.
Based loosely on the 2010 eleventh novel in the series, American Assassin, the film follows the creation of Mitch Rapp (Dylan O'Brien; Maze Runner: The Death Cure) from the twenty-something carefree adolescence to the cold, sharply trained assassin that helps to defend the world from destruction. While the plot only loosely follows the story in the novel, it still highlights the main plot points of the novel — a tragic event that plays into the life of young Mitch Rapp to drive him to be the man he will become, the insufferable hard-ass teacher/mentor, Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton; Spider-man: Homecoming), and a seemly impossible mission to save the world.
Aside from great casting of O' Brien and Keaton, American Assassin has a very well rounded and gifted cast of actors including Sanaa Lathan (Family Guy, Now You See Me 2), David Suchet (The Bank Job, Agatha Christie's Poirot), and Taylor Kitsch (Only The Brave, True Detective). While the Taylor Kitsch character was made solely for this film and is not in the book, he still provides a solid antagonist for Mitch Rapp's character.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Meg, Bumblebee) was interviewed about his thoughts regarding why and how he wanted to see American Assassin brought into being. He mentioned that he missed the films of the 1980s and 1990s that were R rated, realistic, and had a good story, as well as excitement. He continued with those beliefs throughout the production bringing in director Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Kill the Messenger) to help out with his vision. While most of Cuesta work has primarily been in television, he certainly has shown he can handle a feature-length film. Cuesta provides a very fast paced, but deeply emotional story, that conveys most of the general underlying ideas and characters from Flynn's novels — what drives Mitch Rapp pre and post personal tragedy, a re-invented action genre look taking cues from 24 and Jason Bourne, as well as character depth that is normally overlooked with this genre.
Director Michael Cuesta chose a very interesting color palette for American Assassin and the 4K UHD Blu-ray combo pack does an amazing job covering it to the viewer. Throughout the first 2/3 of the film the color palette is very muted. However, once the stories exposition and character development is mostly complete and the film moves into its climax the color palette opens up to be much brighter and includes more vibrant colors. Rounding out the video, the blacks are spot on.
Featuring the same Dolby Atoms soundtrack as it's Blu-ray counterpart, American Assassin has a very wide dynamic range that the film plays with. Action scenes make the viewer feel like they are in the middle of the gunplay while the dialog and score are also heard with excellent clarity.
The American Assassin 4K UHD combo pack comes with the same supplemental features on the 4K and Blu-ray disc. These special features include a series of five 10-15 minutes short featurettes as well as a 30 minutes long Q&A:
- Target Acquired: Creating an American Assassin - Inside the creation of the film and the complications of bringing it to the silver screen.
- Finding Mitch Rapp: Dylan O'Brien - Casting the character of Mitch Rapp
- Transfer of Power: Hurley and Ghost - A look into Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch's characters.
- Weaponized: Training and Stunts - A deeper look into the stunts and military training used to create authenticity for the film.
- In the Field: On Location - This feature showcases some of the foreign locations used throughout the filming.
- Alamo Drafthouse Q & A - A Q & A at this famous movie theater featuring Dylan O'Brien and Taylor Kitsch.
Unfortunately, Vince Flynn had passed away before seeing the labor of his love hit the big screen; however, he should be proud of what was accomplished. American Assassin, while not a literal translation, hit all the marks in terms of the creation of the world of Mitch Rapp on the silver screen. It is also quite a refreshing film that takes a break from the standard comic book fare that has taken over the film industry and harkens back to the type of action films that many people long for. One can only hope there are many more films with Mitch Rapp to come.