Created on Thursday, 14 October 2010 12:02
Written by Samantha See
Directed by Anton Corbijn and based on Martin Booth's novel "A Very Private Gentlemen", "The American" is a contemplative thriller that is thrifty on explosions and car chases but instead focuses on building an uneasy atmosphere of suspense. And despite its deceiving title, it is mostly set against a beautiful backdrop in Italy as well as Sweden.
The plot couldn't get more typical than this: Jack (George Clooney), or "Mr Butterfly" as he is more popularly known with the girls, is an assassin contemplating retirement but urged into doing the essential one last job. The solemn, conflicted hero specialises in constructing customised weapons right down to the exact specifications, and this last job, as promised by icy-cold boss Pavel (Johan Leysen), will be for a gorgeous last client Mathilde (Thekla Reuten).
The film opens with a couple of hitman after an unusually grim Clooney, and later leads to a medieval town in an Italian countryside, where he assumes the cover of a nature photographer. There, he meets and becomes quick friends with Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli), a preachy priest with boring lines, and a beautiful local prostitute Clara (Violante Placido), who finds true love in Jack.
Several elements, including the ever-attractive George Clooney and Anton Corbijn's great photographic eye, would make you think the film is worth a watch. But contrary to what we have been led to believe, its unconvincing romance, minimal dialogue, a tad too many pensive looks and an extremely old plot subjected this writer to two hours of restlessness. Watch only at your own risk, or for the beautiful visuals – both Clooney and the Italian landscape.
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