Three and a half out of five stars
Anticipating yet another full-fledged action thriller with â€œThe American,â€ imagine my surprise to find out that it is actually something original.
The film stars George Clooney as Jack, an assassin-type who hides out in Italy while finishing up a job. But to the unknowing civilian he is Edward, a magazine photographer simply taking pictures of the beautiful Italian vistas.
The surprisingly uneventful narrative involves Jackâ€™s romantic involvement with a prostitute, conversations with a priest and walking inconspicuously around at night. Nice job laying low, Clooney.
Jackâ€™s age and emotions start to inhibit his ability to succeed at his job, leaving him vulnerable to enemies. A large part of the film shows him reflecting on his life trying to escape his haunting past. But in Jackâ€™s line of work, you canâ€™t escape your past.
Director Anton Corbijn does well to explore Jackâ€™s self-reflection, rather than relying on gunfights to be the highlight of the movie. A word of warning, this is not a conventional spy / action movie. Itâ€™s a slow-chugging narrative that examines Jackâ€™s perspective on morality and his attempt to deal with past actions.
The same can be said about the rest of the movie. Where other films are loud and heavy on action, â€œThe Americanâ€ takes a more low-key approach that may not click with everyone.
The music, visuals and occasional scenes of violence are all understated to a point that they become more looming than anything else. This approach is bound to have a divided amount of success with audiences.
While its story is clichÃ©d, â€œThe Americanâ€ pulls off what it needs to on a small scale while it basks in the glory of its gorgeous landscapes. At the same time, it boasts a very reserved, and perhaps underutilized, performance by Clooney.
Movie reviewer Jason Berlinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up next:
A tale about a young womanâ€™s journey to find her drug-dealing father. The movie was an official selection at 2010â€™s Sundance Film Festival