By: Andy Chruscicki (www.twitter.com/filmguy629)
Never trust anyone, ever. George Clooney learns this lesson the hard way in his latest film, The American directed by Anton Corbijn.
Jack (played by George Clooney) is an assassin who carries out every job he is given with precision and dedication and never lets himself get to close to someone. However, when a job in Sweden takes a turn for the worse, Jack must go in to hiding. He is assign to Castelvecchio, a small town in Italy by his associate Pavel (played by Johan Leysen). Soon after arriving, Jack befriends the local priest, Father Benedetto (played by Paolo Bonacelli) and the two begin to form a very apprehensive relationship. More after the break.
Not too many days after arriving, Jack is given another assignment. Upon accepting this assignment, he informs his associate that he wants it to be his last job. Soon after placing this request, odd things start occurring to Jack and he starts to worry about whether his life is in danger and after a while, Jack starts to think this may not only be his last job, but his last few days alive as well.
Corbijn does a great job of creating a stylish, sleek and very well shot film. His technique with the camera really does help bring suspense to the film. One thing in particular that he does with his directing is he is able to take a simple scene, and craft the way it is shot to make it look unique and cool.
Corbijn’s use of the Italian countryside is impressive as well. Many of the shots throughout the film are near breathtaking and reminiscent of European-style film-making that is rarely seen in American modern day cinema.
Clooney gives another great performance in the role of Jack but at this point in Clooney’s career, you wouldn’t expect anything less from him. His portrayal of a lonely, desperate for love assassin who is losing his edge should be used as an example for other actors because Clooney is spot on just like always.
Outside of Clooney’s performance, there aren’t any other noteworthy performances by the supporting cast. All of the female roles in the film are played by woman who all look somewhat similar and after a while, you can’t tell who is who.
The characters that surround Jack aren’t very interesting either. They are all very bland, one dimensional characters and are really hard to care about much less become interested in. This is interesting however because even though it somewhat hurts the film, it benefits the film as well. How it helps the film is by bringing more attention to Jack and make the film more of a character piece which it essentially is. So by weakening the supporting cast, you strengthen the character that the film is about.
The biggest problem with this film though is that despite its great suspense and great directing, everything within its narrative feels familiar. Every twist and turn and every deception within the film is either blatantly obvious or has been used 100 times already in every other espionage thriller. This hurts the film because it offers nothing new for the audience and makes the film predictable and bland.
Another thing is the films inconsistency in pace. The film starts off with a bang but quickly comes to a lull and stays that way until the end where the pace picks up but by that time you can’t wait for the film to be over. This ends up hurting Corbijns vision of what the film could be and decreases what it brings to the table.
It’s depressing to see this film underachieve especially with established film players such as Clooney and Corbijn involved. It makes one wish for more from this film and unfortunately, you aren’t going to get it no matter how bad you want it. It’s almost like getting a pair of socks for Christmas when all you wanted was a PlayStation 3.
The American isn’t an awful movie but it is by no means a great film. If you’re a fan of Clooney, Corbijn or suspense thrillers, you will not be disappointed. If you’re not, you are probably better spending your money on a ticket to something else because this film has more going against it than for it.