Alone among assassins, Jack is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Pavel that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell. The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde, is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto and pursues romance with local woman Clara. But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.Written by
The film's original title was "Il Americano". Technically, this is not correct Italian - it should be "L'americano" - but Anton Corbijn wanted to use the incorrect title as a homage back to the spaghetti Westerns. Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) is seen playing on a TV at one point in the movie. See more »
When Jack and Clara go to the restaurant, they order still water and the waiter brings them a bottle of Aqua Panna. But as they talk and the camera angle changes, the bottle on the table becomes a green San Pellegrino bottle (sparkling). When the angle changes again, the bottle is again an Aqua Panna. See more »
You know, I thought I maybe drive into town. You want something?
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The credits at the end are in order of appearance. However, the 3 hookers are listed in the order: Hooker #2, Hooker #3 and Hooker #1, which logically doesn't make sense. See more »
A quiet and moody character-driven thriller with impressive visuals
Most "one last job" movies are high-energy action flicks or thrillers driven by a veteran actor playing a character with a troubling back story, but Anton Corbijn's "The American" operates as a character-driven mood piece, a precise and quiet visual portrayal of a man trying to quit his dangerous profession who is constantly haunted and pervasively paranoid.
Way different from the Clooney-led spy thrillers of the '90s, "The American" broods and ruminates under the Corbijn's precise visual style. Those expecting Clooney's return to suave criminal mastery will find themselves waiting and waiting for this film to pop. It doesn't. There is no mêlée of Bourne-style assassin-chasing amid the hillside towns of the Italian countryside, so for many, shots of Clooney doing push-ups and putting together a rifle will become tedious.
But "The American" doesn't languish quite as much as it might seem, though it certainly does at times. After a jarring opening sequence in Sweden when Clooney's character Jack realizes he's being targeted, Jack quietly makes his way to Rome and then Abruzzo, where a job awaits him even though he's clearly ready to quit and he's still shaken from Sweden. Shots of him maneuvering the gorgeous countryside ensue as well as aforementioned exercise. In a town in the Abruzzo area, he meets Mathilde, his client, for whom he will build a custom rifle as that's his line of work. In the process, he becomes close with a gorgeous prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido) and comes to believe he's being pursued by the Swedes, causing paranoia to engross him.
Corbijn, who directed the 2007 black-and-white biopic "Control" about the short life of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, possesses a calculated and engaging visual style. His shots are ideally framed and pull our eye everywhere it needs to go. Considering dialogue is sparse, the ability for a scene to say a lot without saying anything is crucial and Corbijn does just that. He also plays well off audience expectation for this genre and twists the story in fresh and interesting ways.
Corbijn and Clooney are clearly on the same page, even if it means the film puts too much emphasis on the non-verbal and the dauntingly slow build-up to the climax. As much as the emphasis is tone, tone and tone, we come to understand Jack (who later decides he's Edward) extremely well and see his conflict between sticking to his sinful nature as a means to survive and just letting it all go because it bottles him up inside. You can critique the method all you like and complain about the film's choice to lean towards drama instead of action, but Corbijn possesses a good measure of talent and "The American" will leave a profound impression.
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