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Not to all tastes - but to mine
rogerdarlington10 December 2010
This is not a movie that will appeal to everyone, even fans of George Clooney, who is in almost every scene. His famous smile and immense charm are totally absent in a tight, laconic role as the eponymous assassin-cum-gunsmith Jack/Edward/Mr Butterfly. But I really admired this brave departure from the Hollywood dazzle which has a genuinely different pacing plus look and sound.

So if you're expecting a fast-moving, action-packed thriller, forget it. After a dramatic pre-title sequence, there is more than an hour of a quiet, slow build up to the retributive finale. The assassin is determined to do one last job before giving up his nefarious profession, but two women are complicating his intentions: fellow shootist Mathilde, played icily by the Dutch Thekla Reuten, and a local prostitute Clara, the beautiful Italian actress Violante Placido. Which woman will get her man? This is a visually striking work, partly because of the unusual setting in the arid terrain of the Abruzzo region of central Italy and the narrow, cobbled streets of the town of Castel del Monte, partly because of the artistry of Dutch photographer turned director Anton Corbijn and his German cinematographer Martin Ruhe. The sparse script is the work of Rowan Joffe (son of the director Roland Joffe) who has adapted the novel "A Very Private Gentleman" by the British novelist Martin Booth.

Clooney is a great lover of all things Italian and this film - which he co-produced - is obviously a very personal work which is likely to be more enjoyed in Europe than in the States.
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Time will value this gem
elroy_geronimo3 November 2010
The cinematography is breath taking, but with top photographer Anton Corbijn at the helm, you wouldn't expect anything less. There's very little dialogue in this film, about 500 lines in total, which emphasizes the acting and the visual spectacle. Don't expect any CGI or amazing action scenes. It's just not that kind of film. It's a homage to C'era una volta il West by Sergio Leone, to The Day of the Jackal (the original!) by Fred Zinnemann and writer Frederick Forsyth, to Italy and in a way to Clooney. The deliberate slow pace will put a lot of people off. The movie is about professionalism, betrayal, loneliness, revenge and love. How good "bad" people can be. A wonderful film, that will not be valued by the average Hollywood loving movie goers, but a must see for people who love movies and for whom movie-making is an art.
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A victim of bad marketing
Ric-715 September 2010
As an action thriller, I'd give this film maybe a 2/10. But that is not what it was intended to be. The ads and marketing of the film falsely suggest this is an action film, and that is a great disservice both to the film and to the audience. I suspect that the film's rating would be higher had the marketing been honest. It is almost the opposite of action: it's a quiet, introspective film. I didn't expect a thriller and so I wasn't disappointed.

As usual in this kind of film, there is not a lot of backstory. We never find out exactly where Jack came from, how he found his job, why he could take such a job, etc. But that's not really the point. We never really find out much about the back story on the other characters, either. I think we actually found out more about the priest.

I enjoyed the film in about the same way I would enjoy a short story, which focuses on a few points rather than furnishing a history and full explanation.
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Superb, Absolutely Superb!
SerpentMage17 July 2011
George Clooney outdid himself in this movie! I really did not know what to expect. I kind of knew what it was about, but decided that I will let it surprise me.

This movie is a low key follow the movie and its steps. You keep guessing and keep wondering what will happen next. You wonder who is behind it all. Of course you can guess what will happen, at least if you watched enough movies you can make an intelligent guess.

But what gets me with this movie is that even though I see things coming I still want to watch what happens. This movie just grips you and spits you out. It is not a blockbuster shoot them up type of movie. No this is more like the old style Italian Mafia movies.

If you decide to watch this movie make sure you have time to focus. Its the little details, the little steps that make all the difference. Otherwise it just becomes another movie.
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the second-best movie of 2010
TheUnknown837-12 September 2010
Before anybody reading this review goes to see "The American," let me give you some sincere advice. If you are expecting this to be another Jason Bourne or James Bond-style of movie with elaborate action sequences, tight pacing, and ear-throbbing had better stay away, for you will be sorely disappointed. The advertising campaign and production photographs gives one the impression that George Clooney is taking on a role in a movie like Liam Neeson did in that marvelously powerful thriller "Taken" released in 2008. But that is not the case. "The American" is shot on a foreign location, features a lot of foreign dialect, and was made by a Dutch director with a mostly Italian cast. In other words, it's not really an American action production. It's an Italian melodrama and a really fascinating one at that.

Lots of questions are raised and very few of them are given answers (detailed ones, at least) in this incredibly affecting thriller. We know and find out very little about our protagonist (George Clooney) who goes by two names: Jack and Edward. All we know is that he's a trained killer, somebody wants him to manufacture a special rifle for an assassination, and that's about it. We don't find out who exactly he works for, and we really don't need to. Clooney is an American sent into an Italian town for a last assignment. While he is waiting for the right time, Clooney tries to avoid being shot at by assassins, and begins a relationship with a prostitute (Violante Placido) which slowly transforms from lust to love.

This is not really an action picture and to a certain extent, it's not even really a thriller. "The American" is a transfixing character study. We learn not about the George Clooney character's history, but his integrity as a human being, which it not very much. Director Anton Corbijn frequently has Clooney in a one-note personality and sets up his cameras at a combination of close-ups and medium shots that remain static as he performs rather mundane tasks as he waits for his assignment to come through. One would assume that this would produce tedium and boredom and for some people, it will be just that. But for me, and those who really get involved, this is rather fascinating and it doesn't drag on for very long at all.

However, the best scenes in the movie revolve around the relationship between George Clooney and Violante Placido, who is effective and charismatic as the prostitute who falls in love with him. The director sets up earlier scenes of them having sex and then later changes the direction to show them not as a pair of sex-starved individuals looking for a way to kill a boring night, but as two human beings who care for each other. At first, I was questioning the point of the Placido character and I was griping, as I usually do, about the sex scenes and how they seem, as usual, to have no purpose. But now in hindsight, I commend the filmmakers for their choice. The sex scenes, for once, are appropriate because they show how the relationship between these two characters evolves from lecherousness to a pure and affectionate love.

Director Anton Corbijn and cinematographer Martin Ruhe have done a superb job at crafting their nostalgia-stirring opus. The movie's misc en scene and lighting is absolutely wonderful. The film is great to look at as well as experience. There are some marvelous and more importantly, creative landscape and interior shots and it's almost a treat that the camera is frequently locked-down so we can admire these moments.

In regards to the performances, they are solid. George Clooney proves his worth as an actor yet again with his portrayal of this tormented, cynical man of few words. Violante Placido is also very effective as the girl. Thekla Reuton is icy and more than scenic in her performance as the in-between person working with Clooney. Paolo Bonacelli is compelling as the priest whom Clooney befriends, and Johan Leysen is chilling in his moments as the mysterious individual who always answer his phone with a gruff "Yeah?" "The American" is one of the best movies of the year. However, I cannot guarantee that many people will agree with my statement. First of all, because a lot going in will be misled that this is a high-tensity action picture like "The Bourne Identity" and when they find out it's not, they will leave the theater feeling vastly empty. So that's why I am giving you warning. Don't go in with that attitude. Go in with expectations for a fascinating, nostalgia-stirring character study and be especially keen as you watch the relationship between Clooney and Placindo transform. And believe me: scenes that seem pointless at first will seem ideal when you look back on it in hindsight.
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Maybe not what you're expecting, but still a good movie.
lewiskendell1 January 2011
"And above all, don't make any friends, Jack. You used to know that."

First, a warning. The American is an atypical spy-thriller. If you're wanting to check out an adrenaline-fueled action film, you should check out Salt. The American is a slow- burner, and more of a character study than anything else. 

The main character Jack is an assassin and weapons maker who at his heart, is a lonely man. His last engagement was marred by an incident where he had to kill the woman he was involved with, and he's forced to move on to a small town in Italy where he's given another assignment and told to wait. But he finds himself drawn again to another woman, and that complication may turn his employer against him.

Clooney gives a great understated performance as the quiet, complex Jack, and he's joined by a pair of excellent, beautiful female leads in Violante Placido and Thekla Reuten. Their beauty is matched by the beauty of the small Italian towns and countryside where the majority of the movie takes place. The sedate pace of the film gives you time to absorb the mood of the setting, as well as understand the effect it has on Jack. 

The American will definitely not appeal to everyone. There are two or three effective action scenes, but at no point is that kind of thing the focus of the movie. Imagine the tone of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and you won't be far off the mark.
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A fascinating film, but not for everyone
Argemaluco3 December 2010
The publicity from The American suggests it is an action and adventure film, when it is in fact a melancholic and deep drama.I liked The American very much, but I perfectly understand why its slow rhythm and calm narrative would make it inaccessible to those people who expect to see shootouts and explosions.And that is not a problem from the film or from the people, but from the distributors, who did not know how to sell this movie.

The American is developed parsimoniously, dividing its time in the methodic way in which the main character constructs a rifle; the flourishing romance among two people who are hungry of affection; and the occasional moments of suspense.Oh, and we also have conversations between the main character and a priest, which contribute to reveal the psychology from the first one mentioned.And all that is framed by the perfect Italian locations, which are full of atmosphere and detail, but without becoming into the idealized brochures from advertising agencies we have seen in movies which were also set in that country (such as Letters to Juliet and Under the Tuscan Sun).I would have said that is an unusual style for director Anton Corbjin, who made many video-clips of Metallica, U2 and Depeche Mode...if he had not already shown his firm hand and measured vision in the excellent film Control.

In order to make a relaxed narrative like the one from The American to work, we need a good actor in the leading role, so that we can perceive the thoughts from the main character in an almost intuitive way.Fortunately, George Clooney is one of those actors, and his brilliant performance in The American is one of the best attributes from this movie.The rest of the cast also made a good work, highlighting Violante Placido, Johan Leysen and Thekla Reuten.

The brief sequences from The American which could be considered as "action" look almost an interruption in the paused routine from the main character.And this is one of the few movies in which the romance is not used as a forced ornament, but as an integral part from the screenplay.The only negative element from The American is that there are a few scenes which feel out of context.However, that minor fail did not avoid me from having a fascinating time with The American, which I very enthusiastically recommend with the warning that you do not have to expect shootouts and explosions.
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Clooney does very well portraying a loner
Red-1257 March 2011
The American (2010), directed by Anton Corbijn, is a vehicle for the talents of George Clooney. Clooney is too tough, too handsome, and too much the strong, silent type to do well as a gentle, caring human being. Accordingly, director Corbijn has typecast him as a professional assassin.

Unfortunately for his character, Jack, "the Swedes" are after him. The film begins in a beautiful Scandinavian location where Jack avoids being killed, and kills his would-be assassins. Unfortunately, this causes him to commit an inexcusably violent crime against an innocent person. The attempt on his life also causes him to hide out in a small Italian village, where he is "The American."

In the village he meets three people. Two of them are pretty much from Central Casting--a kindly priest, played well by Paolo Bonacelli, and a hooker with a heart of gold, the beautiful Violante Placido. The third person's role is more surprising--Thekla Reuten, as Mathilde, surely the world's most attractive female professional assassin.

The plot isn't terribly creative and, in fact, it's somewhat confusing. However, the movie is worth seeing, in my opinion, for the excellent acting that Clooney brings to his role. He is a man who is never at ease, never at rest, and clearly no longer comfortable with his role as a hired killer and gunsmith for hired killers. He is always (literally) looking over his shoulder, and probably will be forever. Not a happy profession, and not a happy life.

Reviewers have remarked about the beautiful scenery in this movie, which I did not appreciate on the small screen. However, the acting and plot come across well enough on DVD. The film isn't worth seeking out, unless you have a particular interest in this genre. However, it has some episodes of intense action, and it's never boring.
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It's slow, but on purpose, and it has something approaching lyricism
secondtake1 August 2013
The American (2010)

Like many George Clooney movies, this one is cinematically superb. You can pick the obvious, like his "Good Night and Good Luck" which he directed and had filmed in gorgeous black and white, or "Solaris" for director Soderbergh's lyrical if romanticized sensibility. Or "Syriana," "O Brother," "Three Kings," and "The Thin Red Line" all in the last fifteen years, all filmed with love, and generally with good effect.

What this means is he is more than an actor, he's an influence behind the scenes. And he's good for the movies (the industry), even if sometimes he pushes his movies into a slickness that is dulling. And that might be the flaw in "The American," the reason why this doesn't quite rise to the poetry it intends. There are aspects that make it one of those films that will view really well fifty years from now. In fact, a lot of it is wordless and so it will be culturally timeless. But it also lacks that daring taut emptiness or plain beautiful long pace of its better intentions. That is, it doesn't go far enough.

"The American" is not about much, in a way. There is the LeCarre sense of a specialized spy alone in a dangerous world, and it's the aloneness that leads to lots of inner thoughts, an attempt to figure out what really matters in his life. And that's why it works in a bucolic way. The ostensible plot is about one final professional job the man has to do, making a highly specialized gun. There are enough scenes of him working on it on a kitchen table, almost caressing the machinery of it, high in a mountain village in Italy, that we can appreciate it on a simple level of craft.

There are women (always too beautiful for their own good) and there are evil men on his tail (ruthless and never quite as clever as Clooney). In other words, there are the usual elements of this kind of world. But most of the time the movie takes its hold on a more direct, sensory level. Some people will find that simply boring. Not enough "happens." But if you let it envelop you, and if you aren't in a hurry, and if you can see it on a larger screen (to maximize those sensory effects), it might really impress you.

Finally, it has to be admitted that the plot is a bit of a borrowing from "Day of the Jackal." Some of the acting is mediocre, too, but not Clooney, and not his one main sexual interest, played by Violante Placido, though she doesn't have a big role. The countryside is so beautiful you might be satisfied just with that, actually. Sit back and watch.

This was my second time around and I didn't realize it and I almost didn't keep going because the simple plot (with lots of peripheral characters) is important, and I remembered a couple of the big twists. But the movie has such a beautiful, flowing narrative pace and visual fluidity I ended up watching it again, every minute. And I probably liked it more this time, not worried about the events as much as how they were shown.
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a real slow-burner that is more about internal conflict than action - and George Clooney of course
MisterWhiplash3 September 2010
The first thing some people (though not all) coming out of The American may say is "It's... slow." They may be missing the idea behind the film. It's not about making an action-packed thriller (one critic putting the cheesy pun "Less Jason Bourne and more Jason Boring" is foolish to make that comparison), and if you need that this particular weekend of Labor Day then Robert Rodriguez's Machete should suffice with that. This is a film with a European sensibility- it even has the director Anton Corbijn from the Netherlands- and is more about the internal conflict and his mechanical, cold nature than anything to do with a straightforward plot. The American is never confusing, and only for those who are looking for something with a huge shot of adrenaline (which, to be fair, the trailer doesn't do a good job of setting up) will feel let down or bored. It's a work that asks to adjust your expectations for a dramatic thriller. To give a much more apt comparison, it's like Jean-Pierre Melville taking a crack at Jarmusch's the Limits of Control. Yeah, that's more like it.

Another thing that makes Corbijn's work so appealing is his star, who is really George Clooney the "actor" this time. It's startling to consider, though sometimes easy to forget, how much range Clooney actually has. In some roles he does go by on his movie-star charm (Ocean's movies) or sometimes plays with that image (Up in the Air) or is just plain goofy (work with the Coen brothers). A performance like this is more in line with Michael Clayton, and it is one of his most memorable. He comes in doing a kind of Alain Delon impersonation (again, Melville comes to mind with his often leading figure), and his Jack character is a smooth operator, a killer who is only cold-blooded due to years of detachment and people around him that he becomes 'friends' with getting killed. The basic set-up is that he's in Italy lying low after a snafu in Sweden, and is given a job to put together a gun for an assassin. Along the way he meets a prostitute and the two become close. Maybe too close.

There is predictability in the narrative, but that's not what Corbijn and Clooney are going for. Anyone can take the old 'one last job' or 'don't fall in love or get close' kind of thing. In fact just two years ago, on this precise weekend, one saw a lackluster action-packed equivalent, Bangkok Dangerous, come out with just a similar thing. Corbjin, taking from a screenplay based on the book by Martin Booth (formerly called A Very Private Gentleman aptly enough), makes this about a man who has had his life chipped away bit by bit from this line of work. He doesn't always kill, but he can, or he is professionally able to get other people to kill. One of the key things to look for is how Clooney acts, calmly and assuredly, and how simply Corbjin films him, as Jack puts together the gun and assembles the pieces. It's like a well-oiled, impersonal machine. The question becomes: how human can this man be, can he connect with someone else?

These are questions that don't usually fly in Hollywood fare, certainly not even in other big Clooney-vehicle spectacles like the Oceans movies. The amount of restraint is remarkable, but how Corbjin keeps things eerily peaceful and leisurely paces is what's really incredible. Some have also compared it to 70's crime thrillers, and that's not unfounded. The action that does come out- and there are, to be fair, a few decent sequences of chasing, dodging and bullets flying without a change of film speed- comes out of the suspense, and the suspense comes out of paranoia. Clooney always has to look over his shoulder, and has to second guess everything he does. His conniving boss thinks that he's growing soft, but Jack knows better, or should. Even around his usually very naked and beautiful prostitute girlfriend, played by Violante Placido, he has to have a gun at the ready when he sees he has one. Can he trust her? Can we?

Again, I have to stress how this is the George Clooney show along with the director's. If you find him to be an underrated actor, this is a feast of interesting, understated moments. Whether or not he's handsome or dreamy or whatever he is to women (and/or men) should be irrelevant to how he acts in the movie. But the movie star quality also carries over to a point. When he wants to be, Clooney can be so compelling with barely an eye moment, just a gesture, or a little inflection to his persona. You need a presence like him, among various character actors both pretty (i.e. Mathilde) and more sinister looking (Swedish villains) or more friendly but portly (the village priest), and he does. I would see the film again just for Clooney and how he drew me in with the believability of the resolve and sorrow in his character.

Another hard sell this season - an art film in the guise of Hollywood Euro-thriller fare in strikingly gorgeous locales shot by that guy who did music videos for Depeche Mode - but it holds a lot of rewards for the patient and willing.
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Much ado...hmmm nothing about nothing
stemd1 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Scenery in movie is beautiful, Clara's boobs and Clooney's back/ push ups are fine, but there is no real content.

Who is Clooney's character? Good mechanic, either with cars or with guns, good marksman. Something more? No information at all.

Where is he from? America. How old is he? Unknown. Has he been married? Unknown. Where he learned his skills? Unknown. Who are his customers? Unknown. Who wants to kill him? Guys from Sweden. Why? Unknown. Who is Pavel? Unknown. Why Pavel wants to kill him? Unknown.

What you can see in this movie besides nice boobs and male back? Not much. Man who is supposedly former assassin who wants to retire, but there is nowhere to run, and nobody to trust. Does that sound real? So - so. Material for 95 minutes movie? Can be. Laid out in this way so viewers have no information about anything? Definitely not.

If story have been laid out a bit different, so we could learn something, anything about Jack/Edward/Clooney, and empathize with him. That would take 5 minutes, one dialogue at most, and without that explanation result is crap. This movie is like Marcel Proust meets the James Bond, but we do not know anything about what Proust is thinking about, and James Bond is almost broken guy who do not know what he wants. Clooney in this movies is like Coca Cola without bubbles, known brand who made such lousy product so you are sorry you lost 95 minutes watching.

This review is already longer than "The American" script, "sapienti sat".
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Dull and pointless? - Or a smart, refreshing take on the 'thriller' genre?
mp32619 August 2011
By some viewers, 'The American,' based on the novel 'A Very Private Gentleman' by British author Martin Booth, will be deemed 'a work of art.' By others - a dull, overly long character piece, lacking in both plot and pace. So which is it? Well each of these views can be fully appreciated and understood after having reached the 100 minute mark. It depends almost entirely on the level of your expectations and whether or not you have the patience to be rewarded by what for me was a very engrossing and compelling piece of film. But my immediate reaction after having left the cinema 100 minutes and nine pounds sixty later? – Certainly that this is a film which cares more about taking a look at the behaviour of character rather than your conventional Hollywood tale full of stylish edits, breakneck cliffhangers, predictable dialogue and cheesy love scenes. Ultimately though, my very first thought was 'what a pleasant surprise.'

  • If film-goers are used to watching a lot of the Hollywood thrillers like the one's I've just described (e.g. 'Quantum of Solace,' 'Taken'...etc – good films in their own right) then of course 'The American' will seem like the slow, boring, "nothing really happens" film it's been accused of being. You can't come straight from having watched Angelina Jolie's 'Salt' or Liam Neeson's 'The A Team' and expect to enjoy 'The American,' which you'll have seen advertised as a spy thriller with George Clooney, so it's only natural to think that it will follow in a similar fashion. It doesn't. - Instead, 'The American' follows more in the wake of thrillers like Mel Gibson's 'Edge of Darkness' in terms of action/suspense and more like Jeff Bridges' 'True Grit' in terms of character/plot development. Instead of long winded action set pieces, it has sudden but meaningful bursts of violence which work almost as effectively as in 'Edge of Darkness' to contrast the slow but involving scenes of character and intrigue that worked so well in 'True Grit.' So if your tastes run more toward the mainstream of Hollywood thrillers then maybe this is not the film for you.

However, what if I told you the film contains a car chase, five assassination attempts on Clooney's character, a femme fa-tale who isn't all she appears to be, a suspenseful foot pursuit through a narrow maze of streets with two professional hit men trying to outwit and kill one another, a steamy sex scene, a face to face showdown and a 7 person body count (more than 'The Bourne Ultimatum'). Well it does. But although this may not sound boring, I can understand how the direction and execution of these set pieces could be interpreted as such. Anton Corbijn, a Dutch director known for his photography and music videos, effectively has the opposite of Paul Greengrass's flashy editing of hand-held cameras used to create a sense of urgency for the Bourne films, instead opting for a more reflective take on the action.

Fans of Clooney will either love or hate this film. Those who aren't fans of Clooney are likely to love it, as he gives arguably the most UN-Clooney like performance of his career to date, using the same solemn intensity we saw flashes of in 'Michael Clayton' and 'Syriana' and turning it up to the max. Gone is the easy smile and likable charm that Clooney is known for exuding better than anyone, replaced with hard eyed stares and a strong sense of vulnerability that Clooney does well not to overdo when communicating the troubles of his flawed character to the audience.

Aided by a fresh and solid supporting cast with the likes of Thekla Reuten (In Bruges), Violante Placido and Paolo Bonacelli, Clooney has a great deal of talent to play off and Herbert Grönemeyer's contemplative music score only underlines and adds to the atmospheric, brooding quality that the film proudly possesses. Reuten brings a coldly effective steeliness to her emotionless assassin, Placido is immediately likable as Clara, the sweet and loving prostitute and Bonacelli delivers a knowing, world weary gravitas to his philosophical role as the priest that makes you hang on to his every word and whose scenes with Clooney are the forefront for the film's moral statement and raising of questions.

So eventually, the audience end up rooting for a hit man and a prostitute, showing that not everyone is black or white. Assassination of innocent people and prostitution as occupations are controversial to say the least, so why do we end up liking these characters and wanting them to be happy? Even the squeaky clean priest is shown to have kept a dark secret, hidden away in his past. So the film's message is that everyone, no matter who they are, strives to be better and find redemption. Every single character is revealed to have sinned one way or another and a powerful line from the film is Clooney's response to the priest when being told to seek God's forgiveness, 'I don't think God's very interested in me Father.' Something which could be said for all the characters and all of us in general, as highlighted by Clooney's meaningful line, 'All men are sinners.'

Verdict: Not perfect but with wonderful craftsmanship from Corbijin's subtle direction to a powerful, hard hitting performance by Clooney, this is the first of its kind for the thriller genre. And hopefully not the last. If you keep an open mind and watch it with no expectations, then like me - you'll find 'The American' to be a very pleasant surprise. A smart and subtle piece of drama.

Review by MARC PAYNE
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Here we go again
nysalesman100-14 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Here we go again, another group of self proclaimed "intellectuals" see a movie they don't understand and call it Brilliant! Give me a break; this is without a doubt one of the most "BORING" movies of all time. Just as a reality check, I'll explain the movie. Clooney failed miserably at trying to make a artsy European thriller. While all the acting was good, most of the movie drags on horribly, and is full of holes. The only good part was the first 5-minutes and if Clooney was shot in that sequence, ending the movie, then I would have left the theater more satisfied. As far as the plot, well lets start with Clooney making a weapon with "the capacity of a sub-machine gun but the range of a rifle" - it's called an M14 and has been around since the 1960s. In fact when Clooney finished building the gun I turned to my wife (who fell asleep a few times during the movie) and said "congratulations you just built and M14 with a retractable stock." Later in the movie he admits to the shooter that the gun is a modified M14. So why would a covert operation need a gunsmith to build a specialized gun in a remote part of Italy when the gun can be purchased off the rack and modified with a retractable stock in someone's basement? Or better yet, instead of modifying a classic M14 (with the wooden forearm) just purchase a modern day KART M14 EBR Airsoft Sniper Rifle, which has the retractable stock as standard equipment. You would think these "covert professionals" would know this, and the studio would have done their research to make the plot as realistic as possible. Then having to fit the M14 in a large Samsonite briefcase so the female shooter can carry it without raising suspicion. When was the last time you saw a female executive carry a large, black,Samsonite briefcase? I don't know about anyone else, but having some background in surveillance this would have made the shooter stick out like a sore thumb. If I spec'd this operation (assuming it wasn't a long distance shoot, which is wasn't when she tried to shoot Clooney) I would have gone with a Heckler & Koch MP5 with the optional scope, which could have easily fit into a woman's portfolio case. Let's not forget the CGI butterflies,which made me think I was watching Avatar for a brief moment. Of course I'm just picking at technicalities, which have nothing to do with why this movie failed so miserably at providing entertainment value. Lately the movie studios have been cracking down on people that download movies. Maybe people wouldn't be downloading these movies if they got their money's worth when they pay $28 to see garbage like the American.
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Promoters up to their usual scam's
galwaydave12 September 2010
How do you get an American audience into a European "navel gazing" film? Lie to them of course! Thats the main problem with this film. It is advertised as a Bourne type action film, but it is actually a character study of an aging hit-man. If it had been advertised as such, I would have given it more stars. As it was I saw it with my wife who would have gladly left the theater anytime if I had said "let's go". Clooney did a good job of portraying the character as a lost soul grasping for some form of humanity at the end of his career. However some actions in the movie had no explanation that I could discern, leaving the plot very loose. Of course the director was concentrating on character and visuals but it wouldn't have hurt to tie up some glaring holes in the plot for integrity sake.
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"Boobs" Is Not a Good Enough Reason to Produce a Feature-Length Film About Nothing
pianistcomposer15 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Do you really need to know anything else about this movie? Because that's actually the only thing of any consequence that happens in it: boobs. AND I'm gay and therefore don't care about boobs, at least in my walking-around, plain old daily life when I'm not thinking about how important they are for nourishing babies or whatever. Which happens, tops - TOPS - maybe three times a week, maybe more if I happen to be at a carnival. Anyway, that should tell you something about how hard-pressed I am to come up with a raison d'etre for this movie.

Really, though, "The American" is a two-hour snoozefest about George Clooney alternately exercising, performing cunnilingus, looking wary, and occasionally (though not NEARLY often enough to generate anything approaching excitement) getting shot at. In Italy, for no discernible reason except that, perhaps, the director (Anton Corbijn, which looks like "Anton Corbin" with a sneeze in it) had some Italian friends to whom he owed favors. Except that half of them (there are about four people in this movie) play Swedes. I dunno; YOU try to understand it. All I know is that I left the theater not understanding anything more (of any consequence, anyway) about GC's character, including little things like, you know, WHO HE WAS OR WHAT HE WAS DOING OR (hahaha) WHY.

Well, we do find out at one point that he makes guns. Because that's what he spends most of the movie doing. Like, a lot. For interminable amounts of time, to the point where I began to get the feeling that Cor-sneeze-bin has a Tom Clancyesque fetish for the minutiae of mechanical processes, esp. regarding weapons. So when he's not feeling up/falling in love with the local strumpet, doing pull-ups in his tiny little villa/hotel-room, or meaninglessly chatting up a local priest who looks like Jabba the Hutt only with less defined facial features, he's making a gun. For someone else. Who

(spoiler) (as if you care)

never even gets to use it. In fact, that's what this whole movie feels like: never-gets-to- use-it.

So George, please, the next time you read a script that says "mercilessly bangs hot Italian chick in delicious red bordello-lighting", please keep it in your pants for long enough to realize that THE ENTIRE FILM IS A BAG OF CRAP.

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I miss Jean Pierre Melville
roastmary-112 September 2010
The stillness of the film reminded me that the director, Anton Corbijn, was a still's photographer - what a coincidence - Here, the proceedings are enormously self-conscious, therefore the pacing becomes a minus instead of a plus. I like George Clooney but here he's in every frame and I kept longing for the Alain Delon of Jean Pierre Melville's "Le Samourai" Here I started to get impatient ten minutes into the film, something that never, ever, happened to me with a Melville film. On the plus side, the locations are breathtaking, like in "Eat Pray Love" but with a darker mood and a more "artistic" intention but stunning none the less. Violante Placido (daughter of Michele Placido) gives us an astonishing full frontal seconds after her appearance on the screen. I was already familiar with her spectacular forms for a film in which she was directed by her daddy. I think Anton Corbijn, is a talented director to be followed, at least until his next film. Then let's see what happens.
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paulimiles28 October 2010
I have to say this movie started with a bang but went downhill from there. It never gets to the "switching off" or "walking out" stage but the pay off for staying the distance is poor. Clooney is excellent as usual and the supporting cast are solid, but the story just goes nowhere. What appeared at first as a sub plot involving the construction of a specialized gun becomes the whole plot. Apparent subplots involving the priest and the Swedes go nowhere and are left hanging totally unexplained and unconnected.

I lost count of the number of times we saw Clooney walking around the deserted streets at night with the expectation that danger was lurking around the next corner. Each scene ending with him awakening in bed unharmed and ready for the next day. The first once or twice it was okay but after that it became plain boring and a waste of movie time.

Overall the movie was a bit like setting out on a road trip from New York to L.A but getting off in New Jersey.

Good intentions but poor delivery. 5/10 at best
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bbryenton6 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Well there goes $50 and an evening out of my life that I will never recover.

We went to see this because well, we had seen a lot of the other movies at the theater. Expecting an intrigue filled evening. What we got was an evening of seeing George Clooney stare off into the distance and making love.

I would explain the plot, but then that would mean I could actually follow it. you are never sure why he is trouble with the Swedish, who his boss is, or why he wants out.

The film tries to juxtapose a priest and a hooker as the two inputs in his life, but the priest only really talks to him and the hooker well she does her job... oh yeah, he falls in love with her. I guess that is the main story.

In the end, the action sequences are quick and boring. The assassins sent to kill this pro are armatures at best except for the lady who he working for, who had many opportunities to kill him but waits for a crowed parade? We never find out who his boss is, but he does kill him too.

All of this makes it sound like there is lots of action, but these are over quick and then we revert back to watching Clooney stare into the distance and build the gun.

I think we were 20 min into the movie and I looked at my wife. We stayed because we thought this had to be a build up to something. WRONG. This was the pace of the whole movie.

I cant believe this is at the top of the box office, other than the fact that the trailer sells it as a spy thriller, and the lead actor has shown some talent in the past.

Once word gets out of how bad this movie is. you will see it on DVD very soon.
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The loneliness of an assassin brilliantly recreated
perkypops27 October 2011
When a film is made with an atmosphere that doesn't suit or fit it, it loses much of its meaning, its sense of story telling. The American brilliantly portrays a time in the life of Jack, for whom killing is a job and a means of survival, his survival. We witness his isolation, coldness, emptiness, his senses honed out of pure fear, a man who may not, in the words of his boss, "make friends". We are also warned very early in the film that Jack may be losing his edge. Is Jack really softening up?

The plot revolves around Jack doing a job in which he is to supply a bespoke weapon to a client whilst evading his enemies who seem very fixated on eliminating him. There is perhaps a touch of irony that such a disturbing plot line should revolve around such superb cinematography and scenic beauty.

Clooney is excellent, and he is supported by some brilliant work from Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten and Paolo Bonacelli. The direction is superb from Anton Corbijn and Martin Ruhe's cinematography exquisite.

This film is almost a classic perhaps let down a little by not being quite as suspenseful at it should have been at crucial moments. But it is still very much worthy of a visit to the cinema or the rental shop.

Warmly recommended.
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Well... hem... hem... let me explain something...
video121227 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I will add myself to the group of people bashing this movie, but I will be so kind to tell you the exact reasons why. First of all, do not be offended, but the reviewer before me - nysalesman100-1 is absolutely right at his assumptions that a group of people who does not understand the basics of cinema and the European cinema at whole saw something they don't understand (in other words it is not coming straight to their brains as all Hollywood blockbusters nowadays) and they call it brilliant and magnificent. Do not delude yourself, this is decent movie, but far from brilliant, let alone classic one. In fact, this is very pretentious movie that George Clooney has produced namely in order to position himself in the art movie circles (but just in the mind of the low than average US audience) and maybe to line himself up to names like ... let me see ... Jean-Pierre Melville, Louise Malle, Fransois Truffaut, Rene Clair, non-french ones like Aki Kaurismaki... Jim Jarmush... many others? Well, let me tell you something, Mr. Clooney - in order to make movies like those of monsieur Melville, you have to be Jean-Pierre Melville himself (R.I.P). I am quoting the name of the big master monsieur Melville very deliberately, because it's him who Anton Corbijn and Clooney want to copy and namely his masterpiece "Le Samurai" from 1961. Well, they are far from getting any this time. Not only that the dark and precious atmosphere of the 60s is missing, monsieur Melville is missing too, because only he could have saved this movie from failure. Comparising Clooney with the dark, steel hard and impeccable Alain Delon in this movie is out of the question - never mind the fact Delon has allowed to speak very rarely in the movie he plays the role absolutely perfect, making it the top of his career in these years. What do we have here - random scenes "Clooney have a cup of coffee". "Clooney having sex" (I am not against erotic scenes in the mainstream movies but 10 minutes mindless copulation is far too much, the only reason why it is there is the female audience and not the essence of the movie and in the book) The script is full of holes, illogical and totally fake, something JP Melville had never been accepted. Some major questions remain unanswered and if you still think this is because the movie was art, you delude yourself for the second time. In general, an good art (and not only) movie does not scream the whole time "I AM GREAT BECAUSE I THINK SO" - it is good just because it is good, there is no need to be over explained or underlined. I am not going to precise the script holes, because there are many of them and I am as short as 1000 words, but let me say again that it is not sufficient to copy the greatest in order to be great - it needs to be exactly them in order to do so.

Sorry, Mr. Clooney, you failed this time.
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Missing the essence
mefisto2221 February 2011
I can imagine that the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth is a very fine book. However, its adaption as "The American" is somehow disappointing for me. It is netiher a personal story nor a decent thriller movie.

I do not think that the movie is boring or too slow. The story (although many times written/shot in a similar way before) is a quite decent story offering a space for interesting details. These fine details are exectly the essence what I have missed in the movie. Apart from the assembling the rifle, there are just few sequences going into deep. For instance, the dinner at the fine restaurant offered a great stage for the development of the persons. Thus, the movie just scratches on the surface or is just a show of the clichés (the priest, etc.) In addtion, the movie has several inconsistencies: e.g. shooting scene the night with dead Vespa driver and the Swedish assassin... If such accidents happen in a such small town, many of Carrabinieri would be involved. Or why is Clooney just waiting what will happen instead of searching for the Swedish connection? Therefore is the movie rather a disappointment for me. 4 points for the location, decent performance of Clooney and Placido and a fine cinematography.
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Who Forgot To Bring The Movie?
talkymeat5 January 2011
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 his boss.

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.
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All the way to the end.... no dice
sadgwebbregister31 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Even with charismatic acting and very beautifully shot Italian backdrops, in the end, at the center of this movie is an unsympathetic character who shows he'll do anything, including killing innocents, to protect himself.

Some reviews have pointed out how long this movie is (my wife, who usually stays to the very end-quit halfway through). Others complain, for professionals, how little they seem to know about their weapons (and reviewers are correct). Still, I hung out the very end, waiting for a change of heart or revelation that would make me care about Clooney. No such luck. In the end, I'm barely satisfied with the ending because any of Clooney's victims could have been innocent, honest, good people.

I'm left with what other negative reviews have said-why did I sit through such a long movie? Most complain there should have been more action. I just wished there would have been some plot that justified all the time I sat in the chair hoping for a good story that never materializes.
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Inexcusable Lack of Research--Amateur Screenwriter
KSigurdson7 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I am not a gun buff, but I know enough off the top of my head to feel cheated by the cheesy writing in this film. You don't measure the speed of a bullet in "miles per hour," and if the main character, who is supposed to be an expert at building improvised weapons, salvages all of his parts in a mechanic's garage to build a suppressor, then at least go to some effort to make the final product look different from a stock suppressor ordered from

In today's age when writers have access to the Internet and can pull up Chuck Hawk's Trajectory charts at the push of a button with a few keywords, then there is really no excuse for amateurish loose ends.

Oh, and another thing: it's a little more forgivable that the main character is shooting 380 caliber bullets which make all of his opponents drop instantly upon impact, but even that is fairly cheesy. This is a not a James Bond flick, after all. He should have at least been shooting a 9mm, instead of that very stylish but very underwhelming Walther PPK. In real life, that pea shooter would just enrage an assassin, unless all three shots were to the head or the heart (an object roughly the size of a man's fist) and the chances of shooting with that sort of accuracy at the range depicted in the beginning of the film is nigh impossible. Granted, three shots from a 380 will eventually kill a man, but very rarely instantly, especially at that range, and not when his adrenaline is pumping.
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A quiet and moody character-driven thriller with impressive visuals
Movie_Muse_Reviews1 September 2010
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.

~Steven C

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