Dylan O’Brien is back in action – and how – with “American Assassin.”
Soon after (almost) recovering from serious facial injuries on the set of the yet-to-be released, third “Maze Runner” movie, O’Brien dove into this ultra-violent adaptation of one of the late Vince Flynn’s popular espionage novels. The movie is the origin story of operative Mitch Rapp, drawn from the 10th book in the franchise Flynn began just before the turn of the century.
On screen, we see how O’Brien’s Rapp transformed himself from a happy American guy into a cunningly vengeful supersoldier following a traumatic terrorist attack. Lassoed by the CIA before he can do too much damage to their mutual enemy, Rapp is further trained – and hopefully civilized into a more useful tool – by hardcase Company veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton). Then it’s off to Europe to try to stop a ghastly nuclear blackmail scheme.
O’Brien got quite a bit of training himself from “American Assassin’s’” stunt/fight veterans such as Roger Yuan (“Skyfall,” “Jason Bourne”), Joost Janssen (“Iron Man,” “13 Hours”), Buster Reeves (“The Accountant,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Game of Thrones”) and their teams, as well as ex-Navy SEAL and CIA personnel.
“I can only dole out credit to these guys, really, for my whole performance,” O’Brien, looking relaxed and healthy in a green T-shirt and gray pants, says. “That was 90 percent of it.”
He performed a similar amount of the crazy action we see Rapp involved in on screen.
“Doesn’t that look like me? Damn it!” O’Brien, 26, laughs when asked how much of that is really him. “No, yeah, all of the fight choreography was me. Obviously certain things, like going through a glass table, they didn’t want me to do. But I did as much of it as I could, and we were always practicing the fights so far in advance, I’d spend two or three weeks on each of them. You really get it down to a rhythm and it’s such a dance with another person, so when it gets to shooting day you can just go at it. It was one of my favorite parts of the experience, for sure.”
There was still a little getting beat up, and O’Brien admits that an evening or two after filming was spent like Charlize Theron in one of those “Atomic Blonde” ice baths. Overall, though, care was taken to make the fights as safe as possible and not exhaust the still-recovering young actor.
“We shot this about six-and-a-half months…