12 September 2017 11:00 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

American Assassin,” directed by Michael Cuesta, aims to be the first in a new action franchise inspired by author Vince Flynn’s best-selling pulp about hot-headed, CIA-adjacent brute Mitch Rapp, the kind of terrorist-killing tough guy whose bleeds koans like, “If you’re not busy living, you’re dying.” The 16-installment book series is a smart choice to adapt. It’s “Jack Reacher” meets “Lone Survivor,” and so apolitical that both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were fans.

Rapp sneers at everyone: bureaucrats, all religions, the French. This launchpad has big ambitions and a whirlwind script where bullets zing in Malta, Ibiza, Istanbul, Tripoli, Romania, Roanoke and Rome. Yet “American Assassin” is so close-mouthed and macho that it blends in with Bourne, Bond and “Taken’s” Brian Mills. Rapp can blast his way through Turkey — but this sullen, swollen hero can’t elbow those box office heavyweights to make room.

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- Amy Nicholson

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