The Hollywood Reporter
Built for action, like its title character, the movie packs a muscular, bloody punch, but mainly it’s a well-oiled diversion.
New York Daily News
An international action thriller that starts slow but picks up speed and just outruns its own clichés to make for a gripping two-hour ride.
For those without strong feelings for the Harrison Ford-era Clancy adaptations, which were polished but largely unmemorable, American Assassin works best as a little-league version of one of those or, in more contemporary terms, as an unsurprising origin story for what the filmmakers obviously hope is the beginning of a franchise.
From the generic title to the formulaic plot (stolen plutonium, highest bidder etc.), you can imagine the rest. But director Michael Cuesta (Kill the Messenger) injects vitality where it’s needed.
In American Assassin, the violence is surprising and brutal. However, its impact is stymied by a predictable script and action sequences that feel like a watered-down version of “John Wick.”
Trouble is, the movie’s dopiness isn’t in fact something you can get past. “American Assasinine” is frequently more like it.
An uneven thriller that would have been better served aiming for a lighter tone.
O’Brien could grow into the role. He has an earnest, high voice — perhaps the reason he’s barely allowed to speak — and shines in the rare scenes where he gets to show personality, as do Keaton and Kitsch when they put down their guns.... It’d be more fun to watch the three actors swap war stories over beers than batter each other — especially when their worst enemy is the script’s coma-inducing machismo.
It's all-around generic, made notable by its weirdly schizophrenic tone. Sometimes it strives to be a character-driven thriller in the Jason Bourne mold. In other moments, it goes for over-the-top action and violence. But it's never very exciting.
American Assassin seems to have a certain target audience in mind, and it’s probably not one you’d want to be considered a part of.