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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
Based on a true story, this riveting thriller follows Jason Derek Brown (Tom Pelphrey), a charismatic con man bankrolling his extravagant lifestyle through a series of scams. On Brown’s trail: Lance Leising (Ryan Phillippe), a dogged FBI special agent determined to put Brown behind bars. When Brown’s funds run low and his past catches up with him, he plots his most elaborate scheme yet, pitting himself against Leising in a deadly game of cat and mouse — and becoming the most unlikely and elusive fugitive on the FBI’s most-wanted list.

What We Thought:

I was not familiar with the true story American Murderer is based on. If you are, you know the outcome of the film, but not knowing about the man helped a little because I didn’t know where it was going. Even though it keeps you guessing, the film fell very flat to me. I’ll explain with a little bit of spoilers because it’s the only way I can get my point across.

With a title like American Murderer you would expect a serial killer movie. I 100% did. Here you have a con-man being tracked by the FBI, but he clearly left a stack of bodies somewhere right? No actually. He’s a con-man without a doubt, but he only killed one person. He owed money to all kinds of bad people and his family, but in terms of murder, his body count was one. It definitely wasn’t what I thought it would be.

And because it’s more about being a con-man and not a serial killer, the lead needs to be charming and smooth. I didn’t think the lead actor was. The film takes place in the early 2000s and nothing about the lead really captured my attention for that time period. I can’t see this guy convincing people of anything. He comes across as just a generic wannabe criminal that gets himself in too deep. 

That would have been fine if somehow this guy didn’t end up on the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted List along the likes of Osama bin Laden and Whitey Bulger! Somehow this con-man who didn’t even steal millions and only has one murder under his belt is one of the most wanted criminals in the US. What? There are regular gangbangers who have done worse. Yeah he conned people out of money, but look at politicians, business people and others who have done far worse. We have a crypto kid who stole billions currently. This guy with one murder and some money theft is a most wanted criminal?

American Murderer is the typical straight-to-video/streaming type movie with a few names in it that might catch someone’s eye enough to watch it. Ryan Phillippe is wasted. As is Kevin Corrigan and Jacki Weaver. Tom Pelphrey is the lead actor and he made a name for himself on Ozark, but he didn’t do much for me here. It needed more action or more drama to really stand out, unfortunately it’s just very generic and by the book. 

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