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Seriously, how many times can George Clooney walk up stairs or down an alley? How many push-ups can he do or pull-ups? How many times do we have to see him laying in a bed or walking across the street or simply staring into space? This movie lacks dialogue, action, and quite seriously, a pulse. The nudity was absolutely pointless and uncomfortable. The action scenes, if you want to call them such, were short and clichéd. Don't be alarmed. When the creepy, intense music begins to play, nothing is going to happen. I understand the basic premise. Another lost and depressed assassin wants out. He has to do one more job. In the mean time, he is trying to find his new self. The story has been done before. Unfortunately, this version was clouded Clooney wandering aimlessly around Italy, occasionally constructing that final gun, apparently falling in love, but mostly doing those push-ups and finding himself in shots with bare breasts.
The subtle dialog and the mass-attack of stunning visuals made this
film heavily appealing to me.
I'm one of the rare people that saw this based solely on the movie poster (oh yeah, and the millions of ads on every website), which brings back the great late 1960s/early 1970s thrillers. Which is exactly what this was. Clooney, with his classic Hollywood looks, really enhances the look and feel of the film. I was engaged the entire time.
I'd recommend it to any fans of classic 1960s Italian films, or any Sean Connery films.
OK, the story isn't that original, that's obvious from the trailer. But how many new stories are out there? When you take a well-worn story and execute it beautifully, the result is a classic. And that's how this film feels. Like the kind of movie they don't make anymore. This is a role we haven't seen George Clooney play before and in co-producing it he wisely avoids the typical Hollywood trappings. "The American" is George Clooney in a European movie, complete with a European cast, beautiful women, excellent acting, cinematography, and music.
None of the action beats feel clichéd and the emotional impact of the film is powerful despite the understated tone. Any complaints about this film are a compliment considering they are probably coming from the same morons who reward Hollywood for putting out tripe like a Transformers Trilogy (a trilogy!?) and then bash them for putting out something like this, a beautiful "little" film with one of the world's biggest actors.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie, pay your admission and show Hollywood there are moviegoers out there with standards. Aforementioned morons: do yourself a favor and educate yourself in world cinema so you can appreciate a good movie like this when it comes along.
-Grayson Wolfe, Idyl King Entertainment
In Dalarna, Sweden, the lonely hit man and craftsman Jack (George
Clooney) has a tragic encounter with two assassins hired to kill him
and survives an ambush. Jack travels to Rome and calls his contact
Pavel (Johan Leysen) that meets him in a cafeteria, gives a Fiat Tempra
to him and asks Jack to travel to the countryside for a next
assignment. Sooner a woman called Mathilde (Thekla Reuten) meets Jack
and delivers the specification of a sophisticated weapon to be
constructed by him. While living in the village and building the
weapon, Jack befriends the local priest and has sex with the prostitute
Clara (Violante Placido). The distrustful Jack gets closer to Clara and
sooner they date outside the brothel. When Jack tells Pavel that this
work will be his last one and he will retired after delivering the
weapon, Jack is betrayed and he does not know who can be trusted.
"The American" is an engaging low-paced thriller entwined with romance. George Clooney has a remarkable performance in the role of a mysterious dangerous man with a dark past that feels attracted by a gorgeous prostitute but he has difficulties to trust her. Violante Placido is extremely beautiful and unknown in Brazil, but her biography in IMDb indicates that this talented actress is also singer and song writer. I am looking forward to see her again in another movie. The conclusion is quite weird and not well resolved since why should Pavel kill his client, and if it is necessary, why before she kills Jack? My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Um Homem Misterioso" ("A Mysterious Man")
Clooney plays a hired gun in what could be considered the directional
debut of Anton Corbijn in the realm of a non music related film.
Clooney's character Jack escapes to Italy after an attempt on his life
was made in Sweden. There he receives instructions for a job that
requires him to construct a gun. Oh, he also falls in love with a
prostitute (Violante Placido); it's all very heart warming and
Corbijn seems to think that creating a movie is the same as doing a photo shoot. And hence the lingering shots of the beautiful scenery the Italian landscape has to offer. Photo's need time to be fully appreciated by the viewer which is no doubt part of the reason almost every scene in 'The American' lasts at least three times longer than it needs to. Perhaps it was also done, to give the movie some extra length since the story couldn't possibly provide for it. Clooney hams it in by acting morose 24/7 only to crack a smile whenever Placido reveals her breasts and buns, which is not infrequent, but tediously so. The story itself moves along like a limping ice age and simply isn't particularly compelling which is compounded by the fact that no character background is explored. The likability of an actor or some pretty stills simply isn't much of a substitution for these missing ingredients.
After an attempt on his life an assassin named Jack must hide out in
Italy for awhile so things can cool down and he can do another job for
Let me start by saying that The American starts off quite well. It hits you with a bang and you can't help but wonder where this strange and somewhat cold character is headed. Nowhere.
The American is just a very flat experience. I know many supporters like to say that it's slow pace is a good thing and you have to be more mature and film savvy to enjoy it, but I disagree. I don't need action every second and I truly enjoy character development; this is nothing. Each seemingly useless scene proceeds with such a slow pace that any possible interest disappears. This is not a movie that uses pace and tone to it's advantage.
George Clooney really doesn't show much range as his character doesn't appear to have any discernible emotions. Whether he is shooting somebody or sleeping with a prostitute he has the same bland look on his face. Maybe this was an attempt to show that he was cold and unfeeling, but no one really contrasts his stoicism. Most of the other characters were very underplayed and cold as well.
This seems to me to be a movie that thinks it has a lot more to say than it does. Especially considering it borrows a lot from superior films (In Bruges, Bourne Identity).
The American mainly fails because it can't successfully succeed as a thriller or a drama. It's not nearly exciting enough to be a thriller and their is very little true emotional meaning. So whatever your taste, it's more likely to disappoint than not.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's an oddly sluggish, oddly thoughtful movie about an assassin
(Clooney) sent to a small Italian village to do a job during a visit by
some personage. While moseying around the cobblestone streets of this
mountain town, Clooney falls for a local hooker and decides to finish
this one job and quit the game. This displeases his employers and they
arrange to have him quit everything altogether the moment after he
pulls the trigger.
There are a couple of loopholes in the plot. I'm not exactly sure who kills whom or why at the climax. It turns into a kind of anfractuous round robin. But that's the fault of the script and, to some extent, the direction, not the performers.
Clooney plays it perfectly straight. He's a casual and unpretentious guy who sometimes reminds me of an urbane Burt Reynolds but he turns the easy charm on and off, depending on the role. Here, he's pretty hard hearted. He patronizes the local whore house and when the attractive and sensitive young hooker demands a little more amorous attention from him, he remarks, "I'm here to get pleasure, not to give it." The hooker, Placido, has a candid and open demeanor, so that the matter-of-fact whore becomes a little soft and fuzzy but she's pretty enough that we can get over that slight stumbling block. Mostly, anyway. Her appeal is still a weak spot.
The support isn't bad either. Bonacelli is the village priest and an unlikely one. He apparently fathered an illegitimate child in his youth. Now at least he's older and compellingly ugly and not given to preachments but rather perceptive comments inserted crabwise into ordinary conversations. Then there is the icy professional babe who has made local arrangements for Clooney to get the job done. Only the chief malefactor -- Leysen, the guy for whom Clooney works -- is a stereotype.
The story is nicely balanced between action (or preparations for action) and character development. There is only one chase through the narrow alleys. It's brief and doesn't end with an exploding fireball. Some nice pastoral moments at the side of an icy but picturesque creek. But, as far as that goes, everything looks chilly in this movie. There are no sunny vistas, no colorful peasants with donkeys, no broadly played al fresco dinners. It's a cold season in a mountain village -- Italy or no Italy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This an attempt by George Clooney to appear in a non-Hollywood, European Art-house moody movie. But it fails. We have seen it all before, much better done, notably with Alain Delon and Jean Paul Belmondo. You can tell it is an European art-house movie because the actresses get their kit off, full frontal and plenty of breasts, without a problem with sheets and underwear! And the lead actor has little dialogue but emotes heavily - and the critics call it 'existential.' Ah well, the script has been done to death - lone oldish assassin called upon to make one last assignment, making a gun with a silencer (could have bought it off the shelf on ebay!) starts to have doubts about the probity of it all and begins to let in a woman (prostitute in this case). A lot of the tropes are here - 'Day of the Jackal' 'Le Samourai' - and some of the scenes are rip offs of other movies with nothing to say. The eroticism is the highlight, although a bit indulgent, while the visual symbolism is laid on with the subtlety of a jackhammer. All in all a mess, and it was done better in 1950s westerns that were termed 'existential - even 'Shane' comes to mind but I would not equate that masterpiece with this slow-burning waste of time.
Anton Corbijn's The American is one of the great, subversive films of
its genre from recent years. We know the drill and we've seen films
like this before that get by on individuals ploughing through a final
job before they quit; hit men going about wiping people out and those
with an immense amount of skill within the field of combat being on the
run. The American is different, the focus is the man and not his
glamorous surroundings; the focus is how agitated he is with having to
constantly perform at the high levels he does in combat, and not merely
the combat itself. The focus here is how he wants different to what
he's got, not out of standardised narrative demanding he got through a
droll process of self-discovery, but out of the fact he's a human being
in the real world no longer able to both psychologically and physically
deal with it. Hell, it's one of the great subversive films of ANY genre
from recent years.
The titular American is the innocuously named lead character, Jack (Clooney); a sort of mesh of varying action movie genre stereotypes of the last thirty years rolled into one. He is Bourne; he is Bond he is someone as seemingly insignificant in a cinematic sense as Agent 47 from Xavier Gens' 2007 flop "Hitman". We witness him occupying a small shack in the middle of snowy Swedish nowhere, and he has spent some time with a young woman. Our lead is dishevelled; he looks out of sorts, slumped on the floor, possibly drunk, but sitting upright and looking frustrated at the world. When further things are revealed to us, and we realise who he is and what sort of film we're dealing with, the opening indirectly calls to mind something like 1977's The Spy Who Love Me; it too a film opening with its lead spending time with a young woman in a shack located in the snowy nowheres of Europe. The idea being that Jack is the anti-thesis to the smooth, suave characteristics that define someone like James Bond, in spite of the fact we are in familiar territory in this sense.
Through reveals and dialogue, we come to realise the man is a highly skilled killer and part-time arms maker who lives alone through what appears to be a very isolated existence: "I used to know not to make any friends" he tells one person, reiterating his hermited lifestyle but additionally acting as a line of dialogue making room for, or indeed inducing, a sense of change as he appears to self-acknowledge the breaking of his own rules. Jack is in a spot of bother, physical more so existential, although that too. People are after him; people in his field that are just as good at what he does as he is, but greater in numbers and an attempted hit on his life during this opening . Through certain means involving the aid of equally shady friends, Jack travels to the mountains of northern Italy and tries to crack on with life in this temporary hiding in garnering another hit. When the action does move to Italy, the film does well to genuinely get across this feeling that it is a strange place to him, a place that Corbijn really captures as this alien territory towards which Jack is apprehensive. A point is made when we observe Clooney stand in a market place donning sunglasses: he looks positively alien, what with his anonymous figure amidst a slew of natives.
Principally, the film does a fantastic job in creating this atmosphere of impending death on Clooney's part following the attempt on his life and there is a genuine sense of unease. When he is shot sitting at a table in a café, the film makes a point to do so with this huge window just above and behind him; a large, intimidating space with the big, bad dangers of the wider unknown looming over him. Generally, Jack's presence in the frame is positioned so that at any moment a fatal blow may arrive. There is some common ground with a young girl named Clara (Placido), a local brothel worker who shares the same anonymous characteristics as he and pertains to have no significant "other" in her life. There is a very intimate moment encapsulating what the lead is going through when he upsets the dominant process of what happens when engaging with people of Clara's ilk, in that he ignores any process consisting of a kind of money exchange or payment so that he may receive sexual pleasure this placed aside for the swift, decisive providing of her with said action instead in what is a reversal synonymous with the overall tract following Jack around.
The film absorbs this love story into its central plot seamlessly, and Corbijn does a great job of weaving it into a text already feeding off its "man on the run" vibe and its attention to crime thriller attributes about an impending deadline on the sniper rifle Jack must produce for reasons that become more and more suspicious. Not once does one overwhelm the other in a master stroke of pacing and construction. The film, as a congealed whole in its tone; atmosphere; acting and direction, is a masterwork a really low key, simplistic piece biting off big ideas and adopting brave methods with which to deal with them. The film is not your more standardised action fare; instead combining this very European, almost patient aesthetic and approach with a very American sensibility (or attention) to genre film making. The results produce something which cracks along, yet finds the time and room for the sorts of substance one would welcome in any film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Plot was fairly easy to follow, not a ton of action (has its moments,
which are somewhat intense), not a lot of dialogue in much of the film
either. This means that the dialogue there is, generally is pretty
I was initially surprised to see that this was a Focus Features film, as they tend towards the more "independent" or "art house" type of film. Smaller productions, smaller budgeted films at any rate, should you dislike my earlier terms. Once the film ran for a few minutes, I understood why. This is not what one would typically expect of a "George Clooney" film. Not glamorous, not a lot of fancy stunts, very much a minimalistic "European" feel, not a "Hollywood" feel to the film.
Nice tributes, although not directly, were paid to the novel "The Day of the Jackal" and to the 1972 film "The Mechanic", as well as many others. Well acted but very subtle acting. Several metaphors sprinkled throughout as well. A little touch of "Film Noir" mixed in too.
In short, if you are expecting to see a big budget, lots of action, typical "Hollywood" movie, you will likely be disappointed. If you like a film with solid acting, a subtle plot and dialogue, you would not even mind if it had sub-titles, and do not expect some sort of fancy big-budget, CGI-filled blockbuster, then you just may enjoy this film...... as we did.
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