American Assassin (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 13-Dec-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Target Acquired: Creating An American Assassin (9:53)
Featurette-Finding Mitch Rapp: Dylan O’Brien (9:52)
Featurette-Transfer of Power: Hurley and Ghost (13:42)
Featurette-Weaponized: Training and Stunts (12:03)
Featurette-In the Field: Locations (9:27)
More…-Alamo Drafthouse Q & A (26:04)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 111:37
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Michael Cuesta
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Dylan O’Brien
Michael Keaton
Sanaa Lathan
Shiva Negar
Taylor Kitsch
Scott Adkins
David Suchet


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Steven Price


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos 7.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     On an idyllic holiday in a beach resort in Spain Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) has just proposed to his girlfriend when Arab jihadists attack the beach, shooting tourists indiscriminately. Mitch is wounded but survives although his girlfriend is killed. Eighteen months later Mitch has trained himself in martial arts, guns and knives, has learnt Arabic and managed to make contact with the terrorist group over the internet. Mitch travels to Libya intending to infiltrate the group and kill those who killed his girlfriend; his contacts with the jihadists have, however, been monitored by the CIA for months. When Mitch makes contact with the jihadist group, US Special Forces storm their compound, kill the terrorists and take Mitch.

     Back in the USA Mitch is interviewed by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) and offered an opportunity to work on black ops for the CIA. For training, and to prove his worth, Mitch is placed under legendary, hard as nails operative Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). Mitch is, however, a loose cannon, unable to fully obey orders which cause a predictable conflict with Hurley, although Mitch’s impressive skills see him through.

     When some weapons grade plutonium is stolen from Russia and an individual trying to obtain the stolen plutonium is identified as Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), a previous member of Hurley’s black ops team, Hurley, Victor (Scott Adkins) and Mitch are sent to Istanbul to try to eliminate the arms dealer who has bought a nuclear trigger and will be meeting Ghost. Hurley does not think that Mitch is ready but he is overruled by Irene and in Istanbul the team meet with local operative Annika (Shiva Negar). Things, however, do not quite go to plan; Ghost escapes, killing one of the team and the hunt shifts to Rome where they must find and kill Ghost before the bomb is constructed.

     Mitch Rapp is a character created by author Vince Flynn, who died suddenly in 2013. Rapp appeared in 16 novels, starting with Transfer of Power in 1999; American Assassin, published in 2010, is Mitch Rapp’s origin story, and this is the novel that forms the basis of American Assassin. The film is directed by Michael Cuesta, who is perhaps a strange choice for such a big picture as he had only directed a few features previously, although he has directed episodes of Dexter and Homeland. There is nothing amiss with his direction of American Assassin, but no real innovation either. The script is also very, very predictable. Stop me if you have seen this before; a man has loved ones killed, is recruited and trained by a secret organisation although he shows a streak of rebelliousness, and let loose on the bad guys. However, action fans will enjoy American Assassin as the fights are brutal, bloody and intense, shot in close with quick cutting in the Bourne style. However, what might set the film apart are the scenes of torture which certainly justify the film’s MA rating.

     I have not read the books but Dylan O’Brien was fine in The Maze Runner films (2014 / 2015, with the third film due for release this year) and he received a tick of approval fromLysa Flynn, the author’s widow. Michael Keaton’s career is having a resurgence at the moment with films such as Birdman, for which he was nominated for an Oscar but lost out to Eddie Redmayne and The Theory of Everything, and The Founder. He is certainly a presence in American Assassin and a pleasure to watch. Shiva Negar is also impressive and it is good to see David Suchet, here giving gravitas to his role as a CIA director.

    If American Assassin has a weakness, other than being predictable, it is that it has to focus on the origin story so it is 60 minutes or so before the first mission and the villain appears. As a result this second part of the film feels perfunctory and Taylor Kitsch really does not get much chance to make a mark; I have been told that the character of Ghost does not appear in the novels which may be the reason his character arc feels underdeveloped.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     American Assassin is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Detail in exterior sequences is strong, and close-ups are fine. Colours are glossy but generally natural, blacks and shadow detail excellent. Skin tones are natural, contrast and brightness consistent although the opening sequence on the beach was deliberately brighter. Marks and artefacts were absent although the print does have that very digital yellow look under lights at night. This is what one should expect from a recent film with a decent budget; indeed, the print is detailed enough to highlight the indifferent CGI warships and water in the climax!

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available. White subtitles also automatically translate the Arabic dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The principal audio is English Dolby Atmos which is read as Dolby TrueHD 7.1. There is a separate audio track specially for late night listening plus English descriptive audio, both Dolby Digital 2.0.

     I am not set up for 7.1 audio. In 5.1 the dialogue is clear and easy to understand and the rears and surrounds featured engines, the crash of fixtures during fights, gunshots and impacts although the lesser ambient sounds, such as that of falling water in the tunnel sequence or the clink of chains could be more prominent. Perhaps that is where 7.1 would come to the fore. The subwoofer supported the explosions, impacts, music and engines.

     The original score by Steven Price (who won an Oscar for Gravity) is not subtle and drives the action along.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Except for the Q&A these are extended EPK type featurettes utilising behind the scenes footage, film clips and comments from a range of participants. Interviewees in a number of the extras include producers Lorenzo di Bonaventure and Nick Wechsler, director Michael Cuesta, screenwriter Stephen Schiff, cinematographer Enrique Chediak and cast members Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Taylor Kitsch and Shiva Negar.

Target Acquired: Creating An American Assassin (9:53)

     Looks at the novels of Vince Flynn, the development of the story and the character of Mitch Rapp. Additional comments from Lysa Flynn, the widow of Vince Flynn, and publicist Dave Brown.

Finding Mitch Rapp: Dylan O’Brien (9:52)

     The casting and personality of Dylan O’Brien and the character of Rapp.

Transfer of Power: Hurley and Ghost (13:42)

     The characters of Hurley and Ghost, the casting and personalities of Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch.

Weaponized: Training and Stunts (12:03)

     Fight training and rehearsing the stunts. Additional comments by fight trainer Roger Yuan, stunt coordinator Buster Reeves and military advisor Joost Janssen.

In the Field: Locations (9:27)

     Shooting in Rome as a character in the film, and using London as a location. Extra comments by production designer Andrew Laws and cast member Sanaa Lathan.

Alamo Drafthouse Q & A (26:04)

     Cast members Dylan O’Brien and Taylor Kitsch answer questions after a screening of the film in Texas. It is pretty inane and silly, lots of laughing and only a bit about preparing for the roles and the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray of American Assassin has more language and subtitle options but is otherwise identical.

Summary

     American Assassin is a solid action film with a decent cast but the predictable script and the need to devote time to the origin story results in an uneven film and a rushed second half. Fans of the books or those looking for some intense fight scenes will find things to enjoy.

     The video and audio are good. The extras are not extensive but offer some additional value.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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