George Clooney stars as the American assassin whom this film revolves around. At first glance, from watching the trailers, one might be led to think that this movie is an action thriller with shootouts and chase scenes. Despite what you may see in the trailers, this movie is slower paced than what may be expected. For some moviegoers that is a plus…and for others, a disappointment. The American blends several aspects of movies together all in one….emotion, reality, and action…in a fashion that is very reminiscent of a European film. I thought about classic James Bond movies as I watched the style in which it was filmed.
The movie starts off in a manner that sets the tone for the rest of the film. It very quickly goes from slow, pensive, and quiet to fast, action-sprinkled, and a little confusing. This back-and-forth storytelling continues for the entire film as several events happen without explanation as to what is going on. If you do not pay attention to the characters themselves and allow yourself to become a part of their world and see their individual inner struggles and desires, then this movie will greatly disappoint you for the most part.
Clooney plays Edward/Jack as an American assassin who is in hiding in a small Italian village from the Swedes who are out to kill him in retaliation for a recent job that he completed (we assume). Seeking to retire from the life of the bullet, he seeks refuge in this village and undertakes a final job. While here we learn a little bit more about the character. His stoic-ness, routine manner of living , and attention to detail give us some insight into his world that is very closed off already. He is closed off for a reason, most people who he gets close to end up with a bullet in them. In a lot of ways, Clooney’s character reminds me a lot of Bond, the more I think about it. Edward only has two relationships in this town that really begin to bloom…one with the local priest Father Benedetto and one with the local prostitute Clara.
The director spends most of the time focusing on the character as opposed to the plot. In true “Focus Feature” form Edward’s character is the main focus of the entire film. His loneliness, desire for redemption of sorts, thought process, workmanship, relationships…all of these human aspects of his character are given screen time to develop in the movie. The American doesn’t hold back from the reality of his character and allows for an attachment to him that doesn’t normally develop in other movies. When the action is present, though, it is fun. I actually enjoyed the cat and mouse games between he and his enemies. Like I said, the action is sprinkled throughout the film….but this movie, by far, is no action movie. So don’t expect it to be.
These all were the strengths of the movie, in my opinion, though. I am not, however, too keen on the significance(?) of the title itself. One scene in the film attributes itself to the title as the local priest states that American’s are not interested in history. “You’re American. You think you can escape history. You live for the present.” Perhaps that line is truly daunting and foreboding as Edward is trying to escape his history and start a future. This film is very artsy and real. It has its silent scenes, and the adult situations definitely make it not one for the kiddos, but overall I enjoyed it. It was different and serves as a model of what more movies should lean towards. Again, the trailers do not really tell the story of what to expect. Go see it if you wish, but don’t expect the action-packed blockbuster that the trailers portray. The movie is definitely not for everyone and the silent scenes may tend to bore, but I did like it for what it is.
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Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy watching!
–The Sp1der’s Score: 6.5 out of 10 stars “The American”
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(It’s interesting that the movie is called The American and the main actor is American, but the main actress is Italian, the screenwriter is British, and the director is Dutch! A little bit of fun trivia there for you.)