Dylan O’Brien (whom you may recognize from The Maze Runner) and Michael Keaton (from all the things you know him from) star in American Assassin. This summer action flick sort of came out of nowhere for me this year. Seriously, I hadn’t seen a single trailer or heard a single peep about this movie until I received an advanced screening pass. It’s possible that I just missed all the hype, or maybe the studio wasn’t fully confident in the film’s success. Either way, today I’ll be digging into the 4K UHD release, so let’s see what there is to uncover.
American Assassin tells the story of Mitch Rapp, a young American man who has lived through a truly heinous terror attack in which his fiancée is murdered literally in front of him. He survives, and turns his pains and frustrations into fuel to carry out a revenge plot for the ages.
Rapp’s plan involved several years spent learning everything about the terrorist cell that carried out the attack that left him sans fiancée. This includes learning the language, religion, and tiniest details of the extremists’ ideology. Of course, going through all of these changes and making the connections with known terrorists puts Rapp on a government list or two, and unbeknownst to him, he is being monitored by the CIA.
The CIA monitoring his movements turns into a double edged sword, as they interfere with his mission and offer him a chance to make a real difference — he is to be their weapon and they will grant him access to those who have wronged him. Sounds like a sweet deal right? The only problem is he will have to play by their rules and be put under the guidance of ex-Navy Seal Stan Hurley (played by the ever-awesome Michael Keaton).
To put it mildly, Hurley is a tough-as-nails badass military type who sees Rapp’s potential, but is leery of his emotions. The two butt heads several times during their training and ensuing missions. Of course, Hurley isn’t all that innocent himself, as their primary directive becomes hunting down one of his former pupils who is gathering materials to make a nuclear weapon.
So we have our setup – an ex black ops agent assembling a tactical nuke while a terrorist survivor comes into his own as a secret agent under the guidance of a gruff teacher. It might not be the most unique story ever told, but it does a pretty damn good job of setting itself apart from the plethora of similar spy-action movies out there. The biggest contributing factor to this uniqueness is the training itself, where we see a series of interesting scenarios that Hurley puts his recruits through, all using some interesting future tech.
However, the training isn’t enough; it really is Keaton’s performance as the angry-turned-borderline-insane former agent that turned this movie away from “generic but good” and firmly placed it into the “yea that was pretty cool” territory. He goes balls to the wall in this movie, and at times skirts on becoming legitimately scary himself.
The ‘murrrrrrica feel that this movie eludes can be a tad much, and is probably the one thing that can hold this back for some viewers. The stereotypes are strong in this one, but if you can see through all that, you’ll find a pretty decent action flick within.
Visually, American Assassin was quite good. It was a bit difficult to see a massive difference in clarity between the Blu-ray and 4K UHD versions of the film, but as always, HDR does make for a better picture.
Turning to the audio, both the BD and 4K UHD versions sport Dolby Atmos, which is top notch. This movie has plenty of action throughout, and there is a good use of all surround channels. Between all the gun shots and explosions in this film, there is not a lot of down time at all. Expect a loud and exciting ride.
No 4K exclusive special features are included, but everything from the BD is present on the UHD disc. For the most part, these are very standard EPK style featurettes, with quick cast and crew discussions about each topic.
- Target Acquired: Creating an American Assassin
- Finding Mitch Rapp: Dylan O’Brien
- Transfer of Power: Hurley and Ghost
- Weaponized: Training and Stunts
- In the Field: On Location
- Alamo Drafthouse Q & A
Lionsgate has gone with the standard 4K UHD packaging for this release, with a matching slipcover, black Amaray case, and BD and UHD discs. There is a UV code included in this release.
American Assassin Final Thoughts:
While a fairly generic action flick that draws a lot on terrorism stereotypes, I enjoyed this film more than I had expected to. Michael Keaton kicks ass as the angry ex-operative passing along his knowledge to the new generation. I would recommend picking this one up. Both the 4K UHD and the Blu-ray are available at Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.