Aug 2010 31

The American is supposed to be a spy thriller, but unfortunately it is lacking the thrill.  An assassin wants to give up the life while a priest wants to save him and a prostitute looks for a man to save her from her life.  There are also two mysterious characters that want to buy a gun made by the assassin.  The “thriller” elements are nonexistent, as in there is little backstory or dialogue but it is obvious where the story is headed.  Unfortunately, the story falls apart in the middle and the viewer is left confused but uncaring as to what is going on.

As a foriegn film or a art house indie, “The American” could have done the rounds at festivals where it may have had a chance at an audience,  but as a wide release film starring George Clooney it has a slim to none chance of being a box office success.  This is a lull in the movie year, mostly saved for low-budget movies or movies expected to fail, so it comes as no surprise the Focus features chose to open this movie now.

The first section of the film occurs in Sweden, where Clooney’s Jack is holed up with someone named Ingrid in a snowbound cabin. Then a group of people try to kill them and Clooney ends up killing them all along with his companion, presumably because she has seen too much, but that part is never explained.

Next, Jack is in Rome and on a pay phone to his employer, who reprimands him over his actions in Sweden and sends him to hide out in a village in Abruzzo while he takes care of the situation. But Jack, being paranoid, decides to hide out in the next town over. There, he settles in and becomes friends with a local priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and  falls in love with a whore (Violante Placido). His contact sends him a mysterious client (Thekla Reuten), who asks him to manufacture a lightweight weapon.  The story continues to go nowhere and ends as abruptly as the change of scenery from Sweden to Italy.  It seemed to me that “The American” could have benefited from a soundtrack, more action, and more dialogue.  The way it is now, I found it hard to stay awake.

The American is a D


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