Not Just a Cheap Movie About a Good-looking Killer

Movie Review: The American (2010)
Spoilers: none


George Clooney is Jack/Edward, a mercenary and expert gun craftsman in The American. More than competently directed by Anton Corbijn, we have the story of an American mercenary posing as a photographer and hiding out in the mountains as he awaits his last assignment.

When his assignment from the completed job in Sweden brings him some unexpected heat, causing him to kill a lover and flee to a small town in Italy, he meets Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and a woman who works as a prostitute, Clara (Violante Placido), both of whom play a part in Edward's desire to leave his life of violence behind.

Beautiful scenes of an Italian city and countryside are the backdrop to this at first somewhat slow, but never-dragging film. Some extensive and provocative female nudity may put off some, but will be a sheer enticement to others.

The blending of the culture in the locality and the stand-alone charisma of Clooney with woodsman looks and James Bond-in-Reverse qualities captures the viewer's attention and doesn't let go. The film's gripping attention to detail and stop-at-nothing character development show the growing paranoia and progressively worsening effects of watchfully living in fear.

We never get to know hardly anything about Edward's employers or the mysterious man named “Pavel” he takes orders from so unquestioningly—or whether or not their organization is a mob or a crime syndicate. This manages to add yet more to the engrossing nature of the plot.

The developing relationship of Edward and Clara does introduce a romantic element that at first seems forced to work – with not every curve of the plot qualifying as novel on the way – but every character and relationship herein is a work polished to a shine.



Grade: A- (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: R (for violence, bloodshed, and female nudity)
Director: Anton Corbijn
Summary: An assassin hides out in Italy for one last assignment and meets several people.
Starring: George Clooney "Jack / Edward," Irina Björklund "Ingrid," Lars Hjelm "Hunter #1," Johan Leysen "Pavel," Paolo Bonacelli "Father Benedetto," Thekla Reuten "Mathilde," Violante Placido "Clara"
Genre: Drama / Thriller