‘Teen Wolf’ star Dylan O’Brien fared well in the ‘Maze Runner’ movies, but he’s an odd fit for this new action film. Based on Vince Flynn’s novels about counter-terrorist agent Mitch Rapp, it feels like an attempt at launching a franchise attempt that may come to nothing.
We first meet Mitch when he’s proposing to his childhood sweetheart on a beach holiday, only for terrorists to open fire and slay her (a more contemporary version of the 1988 Pan Am bombing which appears in the books). Devastated, Mitch grows a beard, learns Arabic and manages to infiltrate a terrorist cell singlehandedly. He must be very bright, but there’s no particular evidence of this beyond these achievements, and the fact that CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan) keeps telling anyone who will listen that his results are ‘off the charts’.
Listening, rather sceptically, is Cold War veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton, also miscast), who agrees to train Mitch up in CIA black ops and go on missions. But with revenge on the mind, will Mitch be able to see straight?
So far, so ‘24’, but 26-year-old O’Brien is no Kiefer Sutherland, or indeed Taylor Kitsch, who pops up just to make you realise how much better he would have been in the role. Mitch seems not just hot-headed but borderline racist, and neither trait is addressed in a satisfying way. This gets an extra point for an exciting action finale, but loses several for a hero who may try your patience well before then.