US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
Jack (George Clooney) is a skilled, stoic assassin, but when things go awry at a snowy cabin in Sweden, he decides to take a break for a while in Italy. That break is interrupted when his boss calls him for one last joband while Jack tries to start a life away from the gun, complete with a newly found priest friend and a hot hooker girlfriend named Clara, danger seems to follow his every move.
Maybe Im not smart enough for The American. Not because its overly intellectual or anything, but because despite the fact that its shot beautifully and George Clooney puts in a great performance, theres not a whole lot to hold on to as entertaining. The trailers and previews were selling this as some sort of Bourne Identity-like spy thriller, which its just notwhich is fine, it doesnt have to be, and you cant blame the filmmakers for what the marketing department decides to do. If your plan is to make a character study, though, you need a compelling story, which even with all the right credentials, just isnt here.
For some, Clooneys Jack is a compelling character, and the film itself, with its sparse score and dialogue, offer an example of subdued artistry that chooses to amplify the coldness of the character. I get that, and it works in that regard. What doesnt work is that the whole movie feels like an exercise in How to Make a Thoughtful Film but doesnt bother to fill in enough of the back story to get us to care. Movies are an art form, but they are also a form of entertainment, and the two dont need to be mutually exclusive. Sure, the cinematography is beautiful, but thats not enough, nor is it enough that Clooney goes way against type and manages to ooze not a drop of charm. I will give it that the last few minutes on the road are brilliantly acted and directed, and from these moments alone the rating went up a few points, but up to that point, theres nothing to invest in emotionally. Watching with my head, The American does a lot of things right, but its gotta be more than just the head for me, and for all the pretty locations and performances, theres nothing to really sink your teeth into.
It's Got: Good Clooney (especially the ending), Spectacular Italian shots, A cameo by Once Upon a Time in the West
It Needs: More heart, more developmet, less pretension
All the pieces are here to make a good movie, but The American lacks any real entertainment value.