George Clooney is maybe the most interesting movie star working today. Unlike many of the top-Hollywood talent, Clooney has a complete hand in all of his projects and seems to stay away from the obvious A-list blockbusters. His newest film, The American (directed by Control filmmaker Anton Corbijn) has certainly been marketed as a ‘George Clooney’ film — the trailer doesn’t give much indication of what the movie is about except that Clooney is an American in Europe and he can do pull-ups really well. Honestly, I didn’t see much in the trailer that compelled me to see this movie, but as a Clooney fan, I decided to go to the cinema anyway.
Actually, the film involves Clooney as Jack, a lonely hit-man looking for one last job, but unlike the normal hit-man-last-job re-treads, Clooney doesn’t even need to pull the trigger. Instead, he is hired to build a gun to certain specifications and deliver it to another hit-man (or, hit-woman, I should say) to be used on an unknown target. Personally, I have always enjoyed George Clooney and trust him when he is in a film. His character is actually quite similar to the established roles Clooney has played in recent years — he is a loner who is very good at what he does, but desperately needs a break from his routine. My favorite lead performance of 2009 (from Up in the Air) is nearly replicated here in an entirely different environment. Like in that movie, Clooney doesn’t do anything spectacular to really grab an audience, but he feels so effortlessly comfortable in his character’s skin that I can’t help but respect it.
Truthfully, there isn’t too much to say about this movie — like the trailer, the film doesn’t have a lot going on in terms of action or plot. It is, though, a very good story film — we spend a lot of solid quiet moments with Clooney, and while he doesn’t say much, we learn a lot about his character through his actions and untold desires. I doubt anyone would see the trailer and expect a lot of action, but if one does, they will probably be disappointed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the film is boring, but it is quiet and still, with many scenes that don’t do anything to push the straight-line plot forward. This does help the few action set pieces stand out, even though nothing spectacular happens in this department. The climax of the film does deliver some nice suspense, answering questions to the mysterious plot points established throughout the film. For those who enjoy beautiful cinematography, however, you will leave impressed. Corbijn’s camera uses the beautiful Italian country-side to compliment the film’s beautiful stars.
In all, The American is a film that I fear most cinema-goers will probably not like after viewing, but I think it is worthy of a chance, especially for those who enjoy small suspense films and, in particular, George Clooney. Although it doesn’t do anything that a normal hit-man-last-job movie does to bowl over its audience and it doesn’t offer up too much in terms of a complicated plot or a lot to think about, The American works for me. It’s a hard film to overtly recommend, but if you don’t expect too much out of it, you’ll find something to enjoy.