Tuesday, September 19, 2017

American Assassin: Men are too emotional to be trusted with nukes.


I went to see American Assassin on opening night not because I have a huge enthusiasm for this kind of action movie - I prefer my espionage stories to be of the "people inscrutably reading files" type - but because I enjoy Dylan O'Brien's face and wish to support his career, especially now that he's gone through a difficult recovery from a terrible on-set accident. I also enjoy Taylor Kitsch's face, and I have vaguely warm feelings toward Michael Keaton as I do everyone who was in Spotlight, the greatest movie of our time. Honestly, this whole introductory paragraph is just to give your brains a second to react to the spoiler alert above and stop reading if you so choose.

So, I saw this movie, and it was a reasonably enjoyable mindless action movie, but! It turns out that the lesson of American Assassin, like basically everything else in 2017, is that men are way too emotional to be put in charge of nuclear weapons. The premise of the movie is literally "This guy has too many feelings, so let's train him to kill people really effectively!" Specifically, he ends up going after a previous guy with too many feelings trained by the same people, whose feelings about the fact that assassins are not supposed to have feelings have led him to construct a nuclear weapon more or less for funsies. Their trainer, who also has a surprising number of feelings for someone who claims to have none, is basically just setting their deadly emotions to ping-pong off each other and hoping it ends up okay. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of CIA Director Hercule Poirot, but I have some doubts about this entire endeavor.

There are only two female characters in this movie, because we do not count women who exist solely to die tragically and inspire men as characters. So far as the audience knows, these two have had at least as many if not more terrible things happen to them than have any of the men, and they do a much better job of keeping a handle on themselves and doing their jobs. (One of them does one questionable thing because of her feelings, but their overall track record is much better.) Their experiences have clearly shaped them and helped refine their priorities, but they do not make everything about their own pain. One of these women has the unlucky task of supervising the assassin training nonsense described above, and it is entirely due to her calm competence that this movie does not end in literal nuclear holocaust.

In summary: Hillary should have won, and this movie is silly but Dylan O'Brien does this thing with a window that's worth the price of admission.

(Posts made possible by my Patreon supporters! Join in!)

No comments:

Post a Comment