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"American Assassin" is an action film, a spy thriller, a meditation on revenge, and a story about mentors and pupils, but mostly it's a movie that loves to maim and kill people and is very good at it. Dylan O'Brien stars as Mitch Rapp, an American who loses his parents in a car wreck as a child, then fails to save his fiancee from a terrorist attack and vows to find and execute the head of the cell that ordered it. Mitch gets pulled into the CIA, where he's trained as an assassin by Cold War veteran and former Navy S.E.A.L. Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). Then one of Hurley's former trainees, an arms dealer known as Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), enters the picture, and things get murky.
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A combination of tax increases and spending cuts in 2013 shaved about 1.5 percentage points off annual economic growth, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Many forecasters expect the fiscal drag in 2014 to be one-third that amount, or less. 'You'll have more political certainty this year,' said Gregory Daco, a U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.
Though slight and wiry, O'Brien makes an effective strong-silent action hero. He's one of those morose outsiders who has no respect for authority but does his job so well that his superiors (including Sanaa Lathan, mostly wasted as CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy) keep indulging his hunches and forgiving his excesses. The tone and style are cool and assured for the first-half hour, but the movie loses its way after that. A tight, often wordless opening section lets Mitch communicate his homicidal tunnel-vision through training montages, encrypted online exchanges with terrorist recruiters, and closeups of his grief-stricken eyes.
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I'm not worried about Philly, Phoenix, or Minnesota. They're young, they're rebuilding. If they make strides, great. If not, take another high pick. The Nets are the Nets and we should talk about them in a minute.
All or most of the municipal government's departments will move, as the office buildings are scheduled to be completed that year.
Everybody has heard by now that health care companies are promising hunting grounds for job seekers, and the New Year will see hiring perk up elsewhere, too.
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I hope you have a most happy and prosperous New Year.
"American Assassin" sometimes seems to want us to think it's an earthbound film. At some points, thriller buffs might be reminded of John Frankenheimer's bracingly nasty R-rated thrillers—in particular "Black Sunday," which revolved around the Mossad and the PLO, and costarred Bruce Dern as a disillusioned veteran who, like Ghost, wants to punish America for disfiguring his body and spirit. There are also traces of "Day of the Jackal" and "Munich" and an obscure 1980s film called "The Amateur," about a CIA researcher (John Savage) who convinces the agency to train him to kill so he can avenge his wife's murder by terrorists. The script name-checks real life geopolitical rivals, terrorist groups, and political events. Besides Iran and Israel, there are references to the post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi government, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Obama administration's Iran deal.
The screenplay is credited to four people: Stephen Schiff, currently a writer on FX's "The Americans"; Michael Finch of "The Interrogation," "The November Man" and "Hitman: Agent 47"; and Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, a team whose credits include "The Siege" (about a terrorist attack that leads to New York being quarantined) and "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back." The director is Michael Cuesta, perhaps best known for his work on Showtime's "Homeland," a series that mixes geopolitical specificity and melodrama, and treats much of the Middle East as a brown menace even as it insists things are more complicated than that. The movie summons the ghosts of the Bourne saga when Ghost compares himself and Mitch to monsters that were created by the military-industrial complex to snuff out designated enemies but turned on their creators instead. But it never pulls off the magic act that made the first three Bourne films (which seem increasingly miraculous in retrospect) feel contradiction-free.
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Wishing you all the happiness of the holiday season.
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If you have a question, come to my office. Don't corner me in the bathroom.
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Dylan O'Brien as Mitch Rapp
Michael Keaton as Stan Hurley
Sanaa Lathan as Irene Kennedy
Taylor Kitsch as Ghost
Scott Adkins as Victor
David Suchet as Stansfield
Shiva Negar as Annika
Navid Negahban as Behurz
Trevor White as Dr. Frain
Alaa Safi as Javeed