Review – The American

★★★½

“The American” was false marketed. From the trailer it looked like George Clooney in a fast paced action packed spy thriller, but that couldn’t be more wrong. What we really get is a very slow character piece. This is a dark dive into the sad, lonely, and dangerous world of a real life spy. This movie takes us through this man’s mission. Now this is not a James Bond type mission, it is a simple realistic one. I like the direction this movie took, we don’t get to see movies like this that often. It can be too slow at times, but for the most part the pace was handled great.

 Jack (George Clooney) is an assassin, he is constantly on the move and can never from long lasting friendships. After his previous mission didn’t pan out the way he had planed, Jack takes a more look key mission this time. He goes to a small town in the Italian countryside. Jack’s mission is to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). He enjoys the peacefulness to this town, he even lets a friendship form with a local priest, Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli). Jack also falls for Clara (Violante Placido). By stepping out of the shadows and forming relationships, Jack may be tempting fate to intervene.

 There is not lots of action in this movie, but there is still some. The action that is in it is excellent. It is fast, intense, and realistic. The movie opens with a little action, and that scene is outstanding. It is acted, staged and shot very well, as are the rest of the action scenes. What the movie also does very well is suspense, director Anton Corbijn deserves the praise for this. The suspense doesn’t just happen during the action, but a good deal of the movie. When Jack is making his weapon, or walking the streets there is suspense. We wonder if anything is going to happen, if anyone is watching him. This was something that really helped the movie. As always in slower movies like this one, the script is extra important. Rowan Joffe’s wrote the script, and he did a great job. The script embodies all the characters and gives them depth. There is not an amble amount of dialog, but what’s there works. The scenes with Clooney and Bonacelli stand out the most. The scenes where it was just them was written almost perfectly.

                             

 The cinematography in“The American” is just gorgeous. All the shots were done perfectly. The camera movements are also great, this helps because it lets you soak up everything that is going on. The cinematography and camera give everything a calm feel, and at times a gritty one. The look and the atmosphere is absolutely perfect, it sets the tone just right for the whole movie.

 The acting is top notch. That is a good thing because even if the movie is dragging a bit the actors are always great. The main guy here is George Clooney, and he aces it. He gives a very subtle performance, and he relies a lot on face expressions. Paolo Bonacelli also gives a great performance. Clooney is the main guy, so he doesn’t get tons and tons of screen time, but he still has a decent amount. When he’s on screen he never falters. Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Johan Leysen, and the rest of the supporting cast do a good job too.

 A good deal of people (critics and audience) have disliked this movie. I believe this is mainly do to what people thought it was going to be, a Bourne type thriller. I really like the Bourne movies, but I am glad this movie took a different direction. We get a lot of those type of movies each year, movies like this are seldom done, even more seldom are they good. The one thing that plagues slow movies is boredom. Some slow movies fail, they don’t work out because they don’t hold your interest. But some like this one (as an example “The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) do. Like I said, it would drag a bit, but not for long. With so little action, the movie keeps you engaged and nervous for Jack throughout. Jack is not given much background, but they develop him well. So by the end we care what happens to him, we want everything to work out for him. “The American” is a great movie that should be seen, just don’t watch the trailer and think that’s what you are going to get. “The American” has many things working in its favor, after I saw it I went and saw it again. Give it time, this movie will grow on you.

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3 thoughts on “Review – The American

  1. I agree, although I would give this movie 4 out of 4 stars. For me, a movie experience doesn’t get much better than this. It commands rapt attention, not from the artifice of action, but rather from the meticulous assembly and crafting of Jack’s character and the growing crescendo of nervous anticipation leading up to the movie’s climactic scenes. In the same attention to detail with which Jack so meticulously assembles the simple tools of his craft – a rifle – out of the sparest of parts, the movie methodically assembles the bits and pieces of a Jack’s life into a haunting puzzle of loneliness and quiet desperation.

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