American Assassin ★★½

The critics largely panned American Assassin, but it's better than it has a right to be. Sure, it's kind of stupid, but it touches on a rarified genre: "17-Year-Old-Todd's-Cool-as-Hell-Badass-Government-F*cking-Agent Movie."

You'd think there'd be more of them, but there aren't many that have A-level budgets. And that makes a difference. Key distinctions between American Assassin's genre, and the 8-Year-Old Todd genre (of which, there are many) is the inclusion of an overly serious plot, and beyond basic, really serious dialog. I'm talking about dialog that is about as obvious as "They killed my fiance, so I will not stop at nothing until I take my revenge." and "When will that be?" and "Never!" (Those aren't quotes, but they may as well be.)

Does this sound bad? It is. But it's also not. It's pretty satisfying, because the cast takes it even more seriously than it's written. The lead (who I'm not familiar with) won me over by the second act, and Michael Keaton was cool as hell -- and event lathered in the dialog like a pig. (Seriously, he was awesome.)

Even with Michael Keaton having such a good time, I would count Sanaa Lathan as the MVP. She starred in AVP, so there's some synergy going on.

The name American Assassin doesn't really sell the movie you're about to watch. They might have been better served by dumbing it down along with everything else. Maybe Rogue CIA Recruit, because "assassin" is so misleading. I know it's based on a book, but--

American Assassin is a title that would be remiss without a song, so...

American Assassin!
He puts the sass in assassin!
He's not formally trained by the CIA!
Just seeking revenge for his fiance!
American Assassin!
He's kind of dick!
But he's so realistic!
American Assassin!
The assassin who's 100-percent American!
Hollywood's answer to globalization!
Saving the world from nuclear radiation!
(That's not a euphemism for the Middle East.
Hollywood's not racist, in the least; because...)
The real bad guy is also--
An American Assassin!
Twice the sass in assassination!
Any hint of racism nullification!
American Assassin!