Parent reviews for American Assassin

Common Sense says

Poorly written, violent thriller about cold-blooded revenge.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews
Parent of a 5, 11, and 14-year-old Written byMadenb September 17, 2017

Had to review in response to the unhelpful Common Sense review

American Assassin is a well made, gritty geopolitical thriller. Here is what you need to know if your teens want to see it: American Assassin is appropriately rated R and unlike PG or PG-13, an R rating still means something, so I figured parents can probably figure it out. But when I saw the biased and not helpful review of American Assassin from CSM and compared it to the inexplicable 4 star rave for It, ALSO very deservedly rated R, I had to say something. Unlike the pointless yet very disturbing, child-centric horror and abuse of It, the real-world violence of American Assassin serves an interesting story that has positive messages.

So for those parents who are interested in American Assassin, but may not have the time or inclination to pre-screen the film yourselves (although I do recommend doing so) here is what you need to know:

As advertised, the movie is exceedingly violent. There is extreme bloody gun violence as well as bloody, deadly hand to hand combat. Many, many people die, including sympathetic and innocent people. But, everyone who is harmed or threatened is an adult, and the violence is never belabored. The violent action is cut very quick, the result being that disturbing images are not seared into your brain. The director is trying to entertain, not horrify or disturb the audience. The overall feeling about the violence is that these are professionals doing their jobs, not sadists lingering lovingly over their mayhem. Even the torture scene is restrained and uses audience imagination and actor performance rather than too much explicit gore to get the idea across.

There is no sexual content at all, only brief kissing. There is a shot of a woman’s naked breasts but she is naked because she is shown dressing, not because there is anything sexual going on. It is the one gratuitous shot in the movie. On the other hand, it is just breasts. The two main women CIA characters, both skilled, courageous and admirable, are never shown in a state of undress.

After seeing the movie for myself, here is why I will take my 14 year old to see American Assassin:
1) I know him and think he can handle it. I would not say this movie is ok for any 14 year old. You have to know your kid.
2) He is entirely untroubled by the violence of the PG-13 movies he has seen- Marvel movies, Maze Runner, Wonder Woman, etc. The difference is the violence is not stylized or prettified. Well, violence actually victimizes real people and people really die when they are shot. I do not see how this is an inappropriate lesson for a young teen to absorb.
3) Like many informed 14 year olds he knows there are people in the world who seek to kill as many innocent people as they can to further their global domination goals. Seeing a movie about those tasked with stopping such people with lethal means does not strike me as a bad thing.

4) It is a very good movie.
The story craftily balances clarity and sophistication, rare for a fast paced, violent thriller. The story is unpredictable but it all makes sense. You do have to pay close attention to the “talky’ scenes and make some basic logical connections to accurately grasp the plot.
This is a very fast paced, interesting movie you can enjoy in the theater and has themes you can talk about with your teen afterward. Survivor’s guilt, revenge, redemption, the use and abuse of power, violence used for ill or good, and the various natures of service and sacrifice to name a few. Plus the movie would make a great starting point for discussions of civics, geography, and geopolitics.
Adult Written byJames Hedrick August 6, 2020

Poor Writing? High Stakes Suspensful Thriller

American Assassin is among the best espionage/thriller/military films I have encountered in my life. The acting is top notch and the script is well written, whatever certain critics have to say about it. The film possesses a gritty realism and depicts CIA and military operations in a realistic fashion free from the flashy stunt work which is often so prevalent in such films. The action is well designed and highly realistic. Yes, the main character's motivation is revenge and this may be an issue for some viewers. I however am not put off by this motivation and neither are many people based on the popularity of films such as Gladiator. It's a matter of personal belief. There are some fairly intense scenes of violence including torture and the beach scene in particular is quite disturbing. There is also occasional strong language. Because of this violence and language I recommend this this film for mature 17s or for 18 and above. However I give this my full endorsement as a quality film for those craving realistic action and an edge of your seat thriller of suspense. Enjoy!

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byJonathan U. December 5, 2017

Great, but not for children under 18!

American Assassin is a very well made movie. The movie is exciting, interesting, and looks like there was a lot of effort put into it. But it is very violent, and has a lot of adult content in it.
There is a scene with a topless woman, as well as kissing, gory scary violence, and very strong, but not constant language.
Although Common Sense says that this movie is okay for teens 16+, I don't agree. This movie can desensitize children to violence, and maybe cause behavior problems depending on the child.
My friend's son who is 10 years old watched this movie, and he became very violent and bought a cap gun and was pretending to hurt his brother with it. My friend immediately regretted letting him see the movie.
Therefore, in my opinion, I don't think anyone under 18 should see this movie.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byCan K. October 31, 2017

Pretty tame spy flick

Only has some swearing and violence okay for a 12 year old
Adult Written byKelli J. October 8, 2017


Anti-American sentiment from the American antagonist. Hated this part of the film. The protagonist is also American who is grieving extreme loss. Hollywood doesn't miss any opportunity to add a gratuitous boob scene that was completely unnecessary and had all of us commenting about how out of place it was. Great action, great focus and intense training. Remind us of early Bourne movies. I always wrestle with the believability of these lone rangers that feel so deeply and channel their rage so effectively...but then I stuff my face with more popcorn and keep watching!

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byRebecca B. September 30, 2017

Smart action movie

This movie was very enjoyable with the strongest plot I've seen in a while, intellectual politics, and few dull moments. The torture scene was disturbing as you watch him get electrocuted and his fingernails get ripped off. I laughed a couple times. The main character gets praised for breaking the rules several times.
Adult Written byMIke F. September 28, 2017

Based On The Book?

The only similarity between the book and the screenplay are the names of the characters. “American Assassin” is an excellent book – the movie is just Jason Bourne lite. Great to see a movie based on a Vince Flynn novel – but glad that he’s not here to see what the studio thought would sell.

Read or listen to the book - skip the film.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byDavid T. September 18, 2017
Adult Written byStevie111 September 14, 2017

Somewhat Generic but Entertaining Action Thriller

American Assassin isn't anything new, but it is done fairly well and has an interesting enough story and characters. For what it is, I thought it was great. The action scenes are well done and I just liked it overall. It is fairly violent`and there is a torture scene involving electrocution and finger nails being torn off. Most of the violence is accompanied by blood, and it is pretty constant. There is stronger language, too, and brief nudity. I would recommend it to action fans, but I don't know how it compares to the books.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness