Movie review: American Assassin

This movie traces the origins of Mitch Rapp, a character that was featured in more than a dozen books written by late author Vince Flynn.

We are introduced to Mitch (O'Brien), a young man enjoying the happiest day of his life on a beach in Ibiza together with his girlfriend Katrina (Charlotte Vega), who just said yes to his marriage proposal.
Moments later, a group of ­gunmen arrive and start shooting. Mitch is badly injured, and watches helplessly as Katrina is killed.

About two years later, we see an overzealous Mitch turning himself into a killing machine by taking up martial arts, and learning to shoot a gun with deadly precision.

He also tries to make contact with the leader of the terrorist group behind Katrina's murder, which brings him to the attention of the CIA's counter-terrorism chief Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan).

Mitch succeeds in making ­contact, but the terrorists are ­suspicious of him.

While he is being questioned, the CIA swoops in and kills the terrorists, leaving an angry Mitch stabbing at a corpse.

Back in the US, Irene offers Mitch an opportunity to put his skills and anger to good use, by sending him to train under CIA trainer Stan Hurley (Keaton), a gruff ex-Navy Seal who doesn't think Mitch is suitable to be an agent.

While Stan is determined to send the new recruit packing, ­circumstances force him to take Mitch, along with another trainee, to meet up with Turkish agent ­Annika (Shiva Negar) to locate the person building a nuclear bomb.

In a news footage, Stan spots someone nicknamed Ghost (Kitsch), who makes off with items needed to make a nuclear bomb, and who is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way. And Ghost always seems to know their next move.

On paper, this may seem like a run-off-the-mill spy thriller, but it is the subtle details in how Mitch handles a dangerous situation, and Stan's pragmatic (and somewhat cold) approach to their job, that makes this story stand out.

Overall, a good film if you like action thrillers.