American, The (2010)

February 27, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Assassins are like the Grim Reaper personified; cold, merciless and persistent. In the American, we are invited into the wrenchingly numb world of an assassin that has become his job, and wants desperately to wash himself of what he’s become. This is a simple film, beautifully shot with a quiet grace and a fantastically restrained performance from George Clooney.

Director Anton Corbijn captures the sweeping beauty of Italy, and lets the camera become intimate with Jack, Clooney’s character, and the cozily rusted town he is sent to. It’s a simply shot film, and the surroundings are captured as natural eye-candy. Everything is shot with a  neat and linear style, reflecting the life of Jack. The pure ambiance of the small town in Italy is juxtaposed well with the spurts of violence.

George Clooney, as Jack, gives a subdued and effective performance. Jack’s eyes are always calculating, absorbing the surroundings, his hands move with efficient purpose, and he speaks sparingly. The silent moments are where he shines, as we get to feel Jack’s intentions and worries. There is always something boiling beneath his skin and that calm composure. Clooney shows us his background and identity without speaking, and does so naturally. Irina Bjorklund, as Ingrid, and Thekla Reuten, as Mathilde, both give solid performances and it doesn’t hurt that they are easy on the eyes.

We are able to get cozy with Jack, on his last assignment to build a weapon for another hit-man. Corbijn invites us to get beneath the skin of Jack, and we get to see the inner workings of a professional killer. The film involves us so intimately with Jack that we are able to feel sympathy for him, humanizing the Grim Reaper.

Potential Drawbacks:

The comfortable pace of the film may translate to slow and boring to some. This is miles and miles away from being an action flick; it’s more of a slow-burn spy thriller.

Additionally, George Clooney gives a performance that is not typical of him. As I said before, he gives a restrained performs and it works very well, but some may want the typical Clooney on the screen.

There are also some technical issues that may be glaring, and also some questionable decisions by some of the characters that may be distracting to the story.

Film Recommendations:

The Matador
Ghost Dog

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