In the critically divisive thriller The American, George Clooney plays a lonely assassin who hides out in a small Italian town in preparation for one last assignment. Beautiful direction, a captivating score and a quiet performance from Clooney makes it one of the most overlooked movies of 2010.
Following an ambush at a Swedish getaway, Jack a.k.a. Edward a.k.a. George Clooney holes up in an Italian village to lay low and begin work on his next assignment: building a customized rifle – one of his specialties – for a new client. But with every sideways glance, car backfire and shadowy figure, Jack suspects that danger is right on his heels.
The American opened to wildly mixed reviews from both critics and audiences alike, some calling it boring and under serving, others absorbing and gorgeous. I squarely fall into the “absorbing and gorgeous” camp. While not perfect, The American is a surprisingly tense and engaging tale supporting by Clooney’s fine performance and outstanding direction from Anton Corbijn (Control).
There’s nothing remarkable or unique about the story – after all, how many movies are about an assassin doing one more job only to have his handler turn the tables on him? – but it’s the execution that makes The American so good.
While some people will find The American boring – as an action movie, it only has three quick outburst in its entire running time – the movie is incredibly tense from start to finish. It isn’t that a lot happens; it’s that Corbijn manages to invoke scrutiny out of every moment, forcing us to question whether something is about to happen.
It’s for this very reason that The American is so effective. George Clooney is great, Corbijn turns the smallest of moments into suspenseful sequences and Herbert Grönemeyer’s score is simply spellbinding. The American isn’t perfect, but it is one of the most overlooked movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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