Director: Anton Corbijin
Starring: George Clooney
Studio: Focus Features
Rated: R (For violence, sexual content and nudity)
I know there is a lot of hate that George Clooney gets from people because he is considered by many to be a “pretty boy,” someone there for the ladies to look at. You’ll get no argument from me: He’s a pretty handsome boy. If anyone had watched his previous few movies though they’ll know that Clooney no longer needs to prove himself to anyone. He is also a great actor who picks quality films to star in. “The American” is the latest of these and it once again should silence the notion that he’s nothing more then a pretty face. In the film Clooney plays a man with no name (so to speak). Sure he has a name; he just has a different one depending on who he’s talking to. To some he’s Jack. To someone else he’s Edward.
I’m sure if the movie went to a few more places he’d have different names for people there. What his real name is doesn’t matter though. In fact, we never find out what it is Jack/Edward does for a living. This is also not important. In most spy thrillers we have a lead who has a clear goal in mind and must finish a mission. In this film his job is ambiguous. We know he’s handy with a gun. He’s hiding. Who and what he’s hiding from is unclear. The local priest suspects that he is in need of peace (he’d be right). But we never find out enough information to know what it is he does and who he’s hiding from. At the start of the film I was frustrated with this because I wanted the film to get to the point. Then I realized this was the point.
Whatever it is Jack/Edward does it requires killing. It requires hiding. He leads a life where every person is suspicious, every window opening could either be a killer waiting in the shadows or...just a window opening. His job requires him to kill and hide. Because we don’t know what he’s hiding from we are just as much on our guard as he is his. The audience I saw this movie with was frustrated by the end of it. While I’m reasonably sure they enjoyed it they were largely unhappy with the setup of the film and it’s ending. From my perspective “The American” offers a somewhat unique experience that requires you to view it in a different way. This is not a movie you watch to understand: This is a movie you watch to experience.
Like “Avatar” the point of the film is not to tell a wholly original story but to tell it well. “The American” is about experiencing a man’s life. His fears. We watch this film and we walk in his shoes. The ultimate destination is not as important as the journey we’re on. This also happens to be a deeply intimate journey with a small cast of characters and a view of the world through the eyes of someone who is always afraid of being killed. The poster of this film makes the movie look like a new James Bond film. While this is incorrect I actually feel that this is what a James Bond movie would be like if it was grounded in reality a little bit more and Bond was forced to be careful every now and then. As an out of body experience “The American” comes highly recommended. For those wanting to watch something that's a little more straightforward...well, “Inception” is still in theaters.
Parents, there is graphic violence and nudity in this film. Recommended for ages 17 and up.