This week’s CUB films: A review

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen columnist

“American Assassin,” which aired in the CUB this past weekend, is a spy thriller that follows the story of the vengeful Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien), whose fiancée was killed in a terrorist attack, and Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) as they, on a covert CIA mission, attempt to track down and eliminate the forces behind several terrorist attacks across the globe.

Why the above title? Because much like the above-mentioned video game, this movie is action porn, and not much else.

As spy thriller’s go, this one is a long way off of being on level with James Bond, and even further away from “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde”; with tired and overused clichés, that one “could leave the theater for fifteen minutes and not be lost upon his return,” to quote a ReelViews review. Indeed, while “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde” work to develop and keep questioning their characters, this spy thriller features one-notes that become increasingly hard to root for, and something that the actors themselves could not prevent.

This lack of development and drive comes evermore clear with the mysterious “Ghost,” played by Taylor Kitsch, who clearly has bad blood with Michael Keaton’s hard-assed veteran operative. However, they merely dismiss this character as a bad guy doing bad things, and do little to add to his story; he is left only as a one-note villain that simply wants to see the world burn. It might have added to the story if Ghost’s story had been explained, and would have lent some actual story to this action flick.

Overall, for those looking for action on top of action, with little dragging out the story, go right ahead and see this one. For those looking for actual story and motivation behind the plot and characters, find something better to do. There are plenty better movies out there for you to watch with your friends.

[If you would like to continue with “Atomic Blonde”]

Speaking of which…

Airing this weekend in the CUB Auditorium is another spy thriller, “Atomic Blonde,” which follows the story of Lorraine Broughton, the most elite spy in MI6, who uses her skills to stay alive during a mission in Berlin, while the Berlin Wall is falling, to retrieve a precious dossier and take down an espionage ring while also attempting to track down a traitor in the city.

Without a doubt, this movie succeeds where “American Assassin” fails, bringing sharp wit and dark humor to a compelling story that keeps one guessing throughout the entire plot. It moves fast, and leaves subtle notes that one cannot make sense of until all is revealed at the end; and even the end will still catch you off-guard, and surprise you.

Charlize Theron, alongside James McAvoy, plays these characters very well, interchanging masks and motives as the plot develops and thickens, and truth becomes clear. There is never a dull moment in this movie, with well-scripted and well-choreographed fight scenes, and a certain realism that matches “John Wick,” in a way. Between the dark humor and astonishing plot, your head will spin until the movie lets you leave its grasp.

The characters also have an astounding amount of depth, each developing as the plot reveals more and more about what actually happened, what is happening, and the ultimate goals of Lorraine and those around her. They too, make you feel for them, root for them, even after they screwed each other over.

All in all, this one is the better one to see. It plays at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 – 29 in the CUB Auditorium. Admission is free, $2 for guests and there is popcorn available while it lasts. Go see a good spy thriller this weekend, and treat yourself. It will be more than worth it.