Mick at the Moviesby Patrick Egan
Though its trailers and poster suggest that "The American" is an action-packed spy thriller, those expecting a film in the vein of Jason Bourne are sure to be disappointed. Instead, star George Clooney's latest is moody, contemplative, and slow burning-- think "The Bourne Identity" as filtered through the eyes of some Euro art house auteur.
The story is simple. Irish American Clooney plays the titular operative (Jack), a professional assassin with a special knack for constructing custom weaponry. Fresh off an assignment that almost ended in his death, Jack is relocated to a quiet Italian village where he is tasked with assembling a special rifle for another assassin. Along the way he meets a prostitute with whom he falls in love and decides that his most recent assignment will be the last. Naturally, complications ensue.
Though it may sound like a conventional thriller, "The American" is anything but. Beautifully shot by director Anton Corbijn, the film moves slowly and deliberately as it examines the soul of a man who kills for a living. The dialogue is sparse, the score unobtrusive, and the violence utterly void of stylization. The film is a spy movie made for the art house crowd-- a somber, melancholy character piece receiving a wide release solely because of Clooney's name above the title.