Dave on film: “The American” is like Clooney

Review: The American

Clooney as an assassin? Sounds like the recipe for a slam-bang action film with a dollop of cool, but that’s not what director Anton Corbijn has created with the very European The American. With the plethora of mindless action films in the last few months, however, I really liked the slow, thoughtful pace of this surprisingly action-free action movie.

Clooney plays Jack, a gunsmith, craftsman and assassin. More a character study than anything else, the film starts in Dalarna, Sweden, where Jack has retreated with his lover Ingrid (Irina Björklund). Unnamed bad guys have tracked him down, however, and he unemotionally kills the team sent to kill him, then wipes all traces of his stay and runs to Castel del Monte, a quaint little Northern Italian town just outside of Rome.

Still loosely connected with his unnamed agency, Jack is given the assignment of creating a powerful, silent sniper rifle for the beautiful and equally cold Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). In scenes reminiscent of the terrific Day of the Jackal, Jack methodically builds the custom rifle and finds a secluded meadow alongside a stream to test and calibrate the instrument.

Seeking female companionship, he becomes close with Clara (Violante Pacido), a beautiful hooker who becomes pivotal to his character development: how can he allow himself to feel anything for her when his whole life has been about shutting down his emotions?

I really enjoyed The American, though I felt that the ending was flawed and distressingly cliché for such a unique film with an otherwise retro noir feel. Clooney is his cool, methodical self, an actor perfectly suited to his role, and the Italian countryside was worth the price of the ticket alone.

If you’re looking for a Hollywood blockbuster action film, move along. If you want to enjoy a thoughtful character study about an assassin trying to find his humanity, however, I recommend The American highly.
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