Vengeance is Bad Until it is Good

American Assassin  (Theaters-2017; Streaming-2017)  Rated: R  Runtime: 111-112 minutesM Assassin 2017

Genre:  Action-Spy-Thriller

els – 5.5/10

IMDb – 6.2/10

Amazon – 3.6/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 4.7/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 3.6/5

Metacritic Metascore – 45/100

Metacritic User Score – 6.0/10

Directed by:  Michael Cuesta

Written by:  Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz

Music by:  Steven Price

Cast:  Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan

Film Locations:   Birmingham and London, England; Rome, Italy; Valletta, Malta; Phuket, Thailand

Budget:   ~$33,000,000

Worldwide Box Office:  $66,000,000+

Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) lost his fiancé, minutes after proposing to her, to mass murdering, middle-eastern terrorists on the beaches of Spain (actually shot in Phuket). Rapp vows revenge for her death and begins training himself to go after and kill all the terrorists involved.  The CIA notices him and monitors his progress, eventually deciding to bring him into the fold and continue his training under the former SEAL, Stan Hurley (Keaton). The plot begins to thicken as Rapp and Hurley investigate a series of terrorist attacks that eventually lead to the realization that middle-eastern elements are trying to acquire a nuclear device and use it to start a world war.

The movie is based on Vince Flynn’s 1994 novel of the same name with plans for making the movie beginning back in 2012, finally leading to actual filming in 2016. The movie is obviously intended as the opening shot for a long running spy-thriller franchise.  It appears that the choice of O’Brien to fill the lead as a 20 something young adult is meant to demonstrate, with time, his progression into a personage with a Bourne or Bond countenance in the subsequent movies. Hopefully it will work.

The professional class of critics have panned this flick with no mercy. The major dig being that the story is stale and has been told a million times before, and usually better. On the other hand the movie paying public likes this movie for the action and the mindless entertainment that it is; nothing more. The filming and cinematography are beautiful with competent acting all around. Yes, the story could have used some sprucing  up, mainly around the convoluted messaging on the morality of revenge, but I’ll reserve judgement until after the sophomore release.  Feet up and pass the popcorn.

Truthers

Unlocked  (Theaters-2017; Streaming-2017)  Rated: R  Runtime: 98 minutesM Unlocked 2017

Genre: Action-Mystery-Suspense-Thriller

els – 4.5/10

IMDb – 6.2/10

Amazon – 4.1/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 4.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 3.5/5

Metacritic Metascore – 46/100

Metacritic User Score – 6.1/10

Directed by:  Michael Apted

Written by:  Peter O’Brien

Music by:  Stephan Barton

Cast:  Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich

Film Locations:  Prague, Czech Republic; London, England

Budget:  NA

A PTSD undercover CIA agent, Alice Racine (Rapace), assigned to a desk job in the immigrant slums of London, unlocks, or extracts information from an Islamic currier that has the potential to bring unfathomable terror to London and the world. The information she obtains is immediately compromised by a mole inside the CIA, and thus, begins a shoot ’em up race to find the mole and stop the terrorists from releasing a deadly biologic agent into the city population.

An all-star cast, along with an accomplished director: Apted, give their all to make something out of an incredibly predictable, misguided and sophomoric screenplay, but in the end it isn’t enough. When Eric Lasch (Douglas) makes an appearance early in the movie, you can get up and leave, the general outline of the movie is writ large and by continuing to watch the show you only gain the details and a headache.

Peter O’Brien is wholly responsible for this mixed up attempt of a spy thriller. If he had written this story without a Hollywood PC twist it may have worked, but instead his fantasy world beliefs make a total and unbelievable mess of the plot. This script makes some sense when you realize that O’Brien’s previous efforts included writing scripts for video games; his greatest credit being for Microsoft’s Halo: Reach.  What doesn’t make sense is how any one paid money to turn this script into a movie. Hopefully after this fiasco he will leave the movie business, and return to the realm of first person shooter games where the story is buried beneath the body count.

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