In theaters this Friday from director Michael Cuestra, CBS Films and Lionsgate brings action and suspense with the “American Assassin.”

Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) is vacationing with his girlfriend in a blue water tropical paradise. In an instant, shooting begins as terrorists walk the beach killing tourists, including Mitch’s girlfriend.

Wanting revenge, Mitch goes out on his own to try and find the man he saw kill his girlfriend. Going online to reach out to a terrorist organization, he doesn’t know that the CIA see’s everything he is doing. When he finds his target, the CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) sends in a crack team of the military to save him.

Angry that his goal is thwarted, Director Kennedy brings in Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), a Cold War Vet, to train Mitch as a black ops recruit. Out in the woods, Mitch works with others on what it takes to go on dangerous missions. That is when the CIA receives word that someone is putting together the parts to build a bomb.

Hurley, Mitch and other agents arrive in the Middle East and Annika (Shiva Negar) is their contact when they discover they are looking for a Ghost (Taylor Kitsch). Almost immediately they believe they are on the trail of the scientist who is helping to build the bomb. Hurley knows something about Ghost but instead of sharing it with the team, he becomes frustrated because Mitch isn’t taking orders.

When Hurley is kidnapped by Ghost, Mitch kicks it into gear to find his mentor and stop a bomb from starting a war!

O’Brien as Mitch is a brooding, sarcastic and perfect person to train even though he does take matters into his own hands. I write it off as rambunctious youth and I don’t mind it. His mind is constantly on the move and his body follows throwing caution to the wind. I really enjoyed O’Brien’s performance and can even see a few more films coming out of this character.

Keaton as Hurley is equally brooding, sarcastic and the perfect person to train Mitch. He is a strong character in the film and fast in his reaction to situations. Now, I have to say there is a scene (no, I won’t tell you which one but trust me when I say you’ll know immediately when you see it) between Hurley and Ghost where I almost sat on the edge of my seat waiting for Keaton to say “You want to get nuts! Let’s get nuts!”.

Lathan as Kennedy sees something in Mitch and knows how to use the pain that he has endured. From the loss of his parents to the murder of his girlfriend, she knows that using it all to become a black ops specialist will make him perfect for the job.

Kitch as Ghost just plain doesn’t give a damn about anybody or anything except making the world pay. His story is a mystery for most of the film but he eventually makes it clear why he wants to watch the world burn. There is a crazy Kitch manages to give that made me nervous! Negar as Annika is an agent who, like Mitch, has personal reasons for wanting to bring down Ghost and she’ll do anything to make that happen.

Other cast include Scott Adkins as Victor, Joseph Long as General Rostami, Navid Negahban as Minister Behurz, Trevor White as Dr. Frain, David Suchet as Director Stansfield, and Shahid Ahmed as Adnan Al-Mansur.

I had a good time watching “American Assassin!” It is fast paced, takes no prisoners, and basically takes us on a roller coaster ride of espionage, mystery and a big ending. The film is basically effortless in keeping viewers attention because this is exactly why many go to the movies — to be taken away with a big bowl of popcorn and no analyzing or figuring out anything.

O’Brien and Keaton are pretty cool together because their characters share more in common than either will admit. Playing off of one another they played into the film’s twists and turns with ease. The film is one hundred and eleven minutes long and there isn’t a moment that doesn’t have something going on.

The films as of late have claimed promises of stories that weren’t kept which makes “American Assassin” so much fun. You get what you pay for and happily pay for the ride. This isn’t just a ‘guys’ film, it is a gather-up-the-gang and go out for a good time at the movies and don’t forget a huge bucket of popcorn for everybody.

In the end — assassins aren’t born, they are made!

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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.