The American Directed by: Anton Corbijn Cast: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Paolo Bonacelli Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: R Release Date: September 1, 2010
PLOT: An assassin (Clooney) needs to lie low in Italy, but trouble keeps finding him.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's slow. Do you still want to see it? This is easily one of those movies that will have the label, "It's not for everybody."
EXPECTATIONS: For some reason I didn't really have much expectations with this film even though I love Clooney. Then I watched the Emmys (he did a cameo with "Modern Family" and was given the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award). I had forgotten that Clooney IS Hollywood. Whatever the project, I trust him. Corbijn directed Control the story of Joy Division, which was good, not great.
George Clooney as Jack/Edward: I'll be calling him Edward for the sake of this review, even though he goes by Jack as well. We like Clooney right? It's almost a fact at this point instead of an opinion. He's an iconic movie star if anyone is right now. Plus, he's still in his prime unlike Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson. So simply watching Clooney as an assassin is interesting. And we do a lot of watching here. We see him putting together guns, walking the town, drinking at a café. It's mundane, but yet there are moments of shocking, calculated violence that makes Edward a character you must keep an eye on. Score: 8
Paolo Bonacelli as Father Benedetto: Man, that's a face. I'm not the only one who constantly wanted him cut below the eye just like Rocky and his fight with Apollo Creed, right? Those are some big bags under those eyes. It's the kind of face you can't look away from and I love it. Father Benedetto attempts to get to know Edward, which proves nearly impossible. Bonacelli has a beautiful, deep Italian voice and every time he shows up on screen I smile just a little bit. Score: 7
Violante Placido as Clara: And here I thought Piranha 3D was bringing boobs back all by itself. I was wrong. The American is here to help, and front and center is Violante Placido. Good lord. She's beautiful. This is some of the best chemistry with a hooker and a silver-haired man since Pretty Woman. True, it's not as funny, but it's shockingly sweet considering Edward doesn't talk much and Clara is ... you know ... a lady of the night. Score: 8
TALKING: Everybody has that friend who doesn't talk that much. But then when he does finally speak, it's worthwhile. You know you have to pay attention. Well, that's Edward ... plus the ability to kill anything that moves. If someone edited this movie to only include moments of dialogue I think it would be a 15-minute movie. There are consistent stretches of silence. I didn't mind. Some will. Here's a line that could be a great indication of whether you want to see this movie: "I don't think God's very interested in me, Father." Does that stir any juices? For me, the answer is "yes." Score: 6
SIGHTS: Clooney looks like a walking advertisement for J. Crew in the best way possible. Plus, it's beautifully filmed. One particular overhead shot shows Edward driving along on this ridiculously windy road. It's the same country (Italy) as parts of Eat Pray Love was filmed, but there is a control here that doesn't exist in that film. Score: 8
SOUNDS: Many of the guns have silencers and that particular sound is one of my favorites on the big screen. There is a little piano in the musical score and it works very well when it finally shows up. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Who is cool enough to pull off a chase scene on a Vespa? Clooney, that's who. It's an intense sequence that ends with shocking brutality.
ENDING: Yeah, I kind of figured that was coming. The ending fits even though I had hopes for something different.
QUESTIONS: Cat got your tongue? More importantly, while the scene of Edward and Clara being very intimate together was sexy ... Edward goes downtown, and that's not really where you want to be going with a prostitute, right? Man, he is brave.
REWATCHABILITY: While I know it's slow moving, and I think seeing it once is enough, I have this feeling if I ever come across it on cable, it will have some sort of odd hypnotic affect on me and I'll be stuck.
Silence is golden. Actually, in this case silence is silver, just like Clooney's salt and pepper hair. There will be many who say this assassin movie doesn't have enough going on. You're wrong. There's a movie with a very similar plot called Limits of Control. That's a movie where nothing happens. God, that was painful. This isn't. The main reason is George Clooney. The Swedes are after him, something that rarely happens in movies. I mean, has their ever been a killer Swede? Maybe that guy in Die Hard. Anyway, the subject of an assassin looking to get out of the business and find happiness has been done to death. But there's something different here. It's almost as if George Clooney is channeling George Costanza. I can even hear Clooney screaming, "No, nothing happens!" Plus, he's spotting dimes (another "Seinfeld" reference) left and right in the form of suspicious characters in a beautifully set town. Costanza always had an odd confidence mixed in with his insane pessimism. Not only does Clooney's character share that, it's like Clooney confidently said, "My friend Matt Damon made those Bourne movies and that super long, almost boring The Good Shepherd, I bet I can combine those into one movie."
Clooney delivers in The American.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10