Published Date: 06/09/2017
A one-of-a-kind American assassin possessed of savage skills and a ferocious drive for payback is born in this non-stop action-espionage thriller!
Based on the mega-bestselling book series by the late Vince Flynn, American Assassin introduces film audiences to one of contemporary fiction’s most popular heroes working in the shadows: CIA super-agent Mitch Rapp. When Rapp’s promising future is torn apart by a shocking burst of violence, it ignites his career as a clandestine warrior on the frontlines of the Age of Terror. Now he must discover how to turn his blistering rage into fuel for hunting those who would destroy others’ dreams – in a world where clarity isn’t easy to come by.
Directed by Michael Cuesta (Homeland) American Assassin stars Dylan O’Brien, Sanaa Lathan, Taylor Kitsch and Michael Keaton and is produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Salt, RED) and Nick Wechsler (The Road, Under The Skin).
The Oscar nominated Michael Keaton (Birdman, Spotlight, Batman) was drawn to a mix of elements that are very 2017 but with Flynn’s unique point of view on modern espionage. “The script made real changes from the book – but I felt it kept the core of what Vince was trying to say while complicating things morally and globally in a very intriguing way,” he says.
Cuesta was attracted to a story that is both global in nature and bucks the stereotypes to explore the drives and consequences of terror on a more personal level. He was also drawn to the story’s mounting momentum and wanted that acceleration to be real and visceral for the audience without becoming comic book or fantastical. “I love that there’s a real sense of geopolitical movement as well as psychological movement in this story. My approach was to never overtly stylise the story – but rather to ground things in reality, as Flynn did in his books, even in the most intense action,” the director elaborates.
For all of the quite literally high-explosive sequences, Cuesta wanted to indeed make things personal for the audience. “I love edge-of-your-seat thrillers but I believe action has to be earned,” he explains. “An irony is that even the most extreme, cutting edge action can feel boring if you don’t care about the characters caught up in it. So that’s why from the start we felt this film had to centre on Mitch’s appeal as a person. He’s a guy you’d follow anywhere, into the most hazardous situations.”
Starring as agent Mitch Rapp is 25 year-old Dylan O’Brien, who has never tackled a role like this one before. It was O’Brien’s turn as the maze-escaping Thomas in the hit dystopian series The Maze Runner that convinced them he had the blend of gutsiness and self-driven confidence to embody Rapp as a haunted young man.
Di Bonaventura had recently worked with the rising actor in Deepwater Horizon and intuited a heroic streak. “The audience has to invest in Mitch emotionally and you can do that with Dylan,” says the producer. “He came at the role with humility but he also understood that Mitch is a tough son of a bitch who rises to a different level of engagement with the enemy. In some scenes, you see a Mitch who is still not quite all put together, but the second somebody pushes up against him, he pushes back really hard. Then you think, ‘oh, there’s Mitch Rapp starting to emerge.’ And that’s exactly right.”
Certainly O’Brien loved the idea of taking the audience on a journey into how a current-day intelligence operative is created via a blend of personal psychology, breakneck training and the sink-or-swim hazards of early missions. “What’s cool about American Assassin is that you get to see where Mitch Rapp started and you get to follow his personal path into this world of the CIA, driven by his own urge for vengeance that he has to learn to control,” says O’Brien. “When I started talking to guys who work for the CIA, I discovered that often they have similar kinds of stories, where some dark, harsh experience set them down the road of becoming an agent; and often that story still drives them to this day.”
We have followed Dylan O’Brien’s cinematic career and are excited to see him breakout in an edge of the seat thriller.
You can book tickets for American Assassin here
American Assassin is out at Showcase Cinemas September 14