a real slow-burner that is more about internal conflict than action - and George Clooney of course (by Quinoa1984)
The first thing some people though not all coming out of The American may say is "It's... slow." They may be missing the idea behind the film. It's not about making an action-packed thriller one critic putting the cheesy pun "Less Jason Bourne and more Jason Boring" is foolish to make that comparison , and if you need that this particular weekend of Labor Day then Robert Rodriguez's Machete should suffice with that. This is a film with a European sensibility- it even has the director Anton Corbijn from the Netherlands- and is more about the internal conflict <more>
and his mechanical, cold nature than anything to do with a straightforward plot. The American is never confusing, and only for those who are looking for something with a huge shot of adrenaline which, to be fair, the trailer doesn't do a good job of setting up will feel let down or bored. It's a work that asks to adjust your expectations for a dramatic thriller. To give a much more apt comparison, it's like Jean-Pierre Melville taking a crack at Jarmusch's the Limits of Control. Yeah, that's more like it.Another thing that makes Corbijn's work so appealing is his star, who is really George Clooney the "actor" this time. It's startling to consider, though sometimes easy to forget, how much range Clooney actually has. In some roles he does go by on his movie-star charm Ocean's movies or sometimes plays with that image Up in the Air or is just plain goofy work with the Coen brothers . A performance like this is more in line with Michael Clayton, and it is one of his most memorable. He comes in doing a kind of Alain Delon impersonation again, Melville comes to mind with his often leading figure , and his Jack character is a smooth operator, a killer who is only cold-blooded due to years of detachment and people around him that he becomes 'friends' with getting killed. The basic set-up is that he's in Italy lying low after a snafu in Sweden, and is given a job to put together a gun for an assassin. Along the way he meets a prostitute and the two become close. Maybe too close.There is predictability in the narrative, but that's not what Corbijn and Clooney are going for. Anyone can take the old 'one last job' or 'don't fall in love or get close' kind of thing. In fact just two years ago, on this precise weekend, one saw a lackluster action-packed equivalent, Bangkok Dangerous, come out with just a similar thing. Corbjin, taking from a screenplay based on the book by Martin Booth formerly called A Very Private Gentleman aptly enough , makes this about a man who has had his life chipped away bit by bit from this line of work. He doesn't always kill, but he can, or he is professionally able to get other people to kill. One of the key things to look for is how Clooney acts, calmly and assuredly, and how simply Corbjin films him, as Jack puts together the gun and assembles the pieces. It's like a well-oiled, impersonal machine. The question becomes: how human can this man be, can he connect with someone else? These are questions that don't usually fly in Hollywood fare, certainly not even in other big Clooney-vehicle spectacles like the Oceans movies. The amount of restraint is remarkable, but how Corbjin keeps things eerily peaceful and leisurely paces is what's really incredible. Some have also compared it to 70's crime thrillers, and that's not unfounded. The action that does come out- and there are, to be fair, a few decent sequences of chasing, dodging and bullets flying without a change of film speed- comes out of the suspense, and the suspense comes out of paranoia. Clooney always has to look over his shoulder, and has to second guess everything he does. His conniving boss thinks that he's growing soft, but Jack knows better, or should. Even around his usually very naked and beautiful prostitute girlfriend, played by Violante Placido, he has to have a gun at the ready when he sees he has one. Can he trust her? Can we? Again, I have to stress how this is the George Clooney show along with the director's. If you find him to be an underrated actor, this is a feast of interesting, understated moments. Whether or not he's handsome or dreamy or whatever he is to women and/or men should be irrelevant to how he acts in the movie. But the movie star quality also carries over to a point. When he wants to be, Clooney can be so compelling with barely an eye moment, just a gesture, or a little inflection to his persona. You need a presence like him, among various character actors both pretty i.e. Mathilde and more sinister looking Swedish villains or more friendly but portly the village priest , and he does. I would see the film again just for Clooney and how he drew me in with the believability of the resolve and sorrow in his character.Another hard sell this season - an art film in the guise of Hollywood Euro-thriller fare in strikingly gorgeous locales shot by that guy who did music videos for Depeche Mode - but it holds a lot of rewards for the patient and willing.
Be Prepared For Something Very Different ...And Very Good (by fwomp)
Who would have thought that Hollywood could produce a taut murder-thriller without slamming every plot point down our throats? But there you have it: that's THE American.George Clooney, whom I usually enjoy more in his comedic or semi-serious roles O' BROTHER WHERE ART THOU and BURN AFTER READING being two of my recent favorites pulls in a dark, interesting, and dangerous character as Jack, a weapons man/hit-man who's retirement from his chosen profession is proving extremely difficult.Making friends is risky to both Jack and those he likes, as we witness early on in the film <more>
what he's forced to do to a woman whose innocence means nothing when Jack is discovered in a Swedish hideout. Forcing Jack to leave, he travels to Italy where he's told to lay low and wait for instructions. And when the instructions come, the audience can feel those pin-pricks of caution raising on their necks.The great thing about The American is that Clooney is truly the only recognizable face for many U.S. film-watchers. But the rest of the cast are just as intense as Clooney's character. Great silences and moments of boredom are punctuated alongside moments of terrible aggression and death. And there's also sex, love, and priestly friendship intertwined.It's rare nowadays to find something like The American showing in U.S. cities, but most of us should be very glad it's here. Hearkening back to Hitchcock days but with a modern bent , this movie almost certainly would've never seen the light of the Western hemisphere had it not been for Clooney's pretty-boy face taking front and center stage. But as recognizable as Clooney's face is, it is NOT a typical Clooney role. Here we get the actor stretching himself into new and greater territory. I swear this movie had the fewest lines I've ever heard in a major Hollywood production; and I'm thankful for that because it helped up the tension.Indeed, it is the film's tension that drives the entire plot. We see and feel the battles raging within Jack as he's forced to decide whether to kill someone he's growing close to, or to let them live and risk his own life ...again.Those looking for a kind of BOURNE IDENTITY style flick are going to be sorely disappointed if they think this is in-line with that action-driven drivel. So be prepared for something very different. And very good.
It's So Infrequent to See a Film This Smoothly, Carefully Created. (by jzappa)
Clooney may not have a hit this time, but he continues to use great acumen in his work as an actor, continually endeavoring to release something crisp and mature. And again, Clooney readily lets us see something quite distinctive: an unflinching tranquility and a tone of hushed inscrutability. The American, a methodical film that could've arisen from mid-'60s France or Italy, allows him to play an ascetically distinct man. Other than his critical human failing, the American is, well, on target: preserved, unyielding and proficient, with a concentration so tight it's identified no <more>
more than by his expertise and his master.The character's name is Jack, or maybe Edward. He's one of those people who can marshal mechanical parts by intuition and nature, so innate is his dexterity. His trade is crafting customized weapons for specific contract killings. The objects of Jack/Edward's life are central to who he is. Clooney creates a sense of conviction in the character's life by building a relationship with the objects in it. He understands that that's as important as finding his inner needs and compulsions. He doesn't think of his tools, guns and simple machines as obligations but occasions to enhance the fullness of his portrayal.He works for Pavel, played by Johan Leysen, an interesting actor with lots of character. Pavel assigns him a job. It concerns meeting a woman named Mathilde in Italy. They meet in an open location, where she carries a paper folded under her arm, the timeless giveaway in thrillers. Their exchange commences with one word: "Range?" It includes solely the terms of the ordered product. No talk of reason, price, anything. The dialogue is so careful and lucid, a line very rarely going on for more than five or six words. The words deliver themselves. There are no adverbs tagging lines, defining delivery. Fewer words do more.The whole crisis of this tight, ripe film lies on two words. We must be wary to grasp that once, and just once, they're said by the wrong person. They trigger the whole film and all of its dealings to take turns. I underwent rapture at this fine point. It's so irregular to see a film this gently, prudently created, this unwearyingly constructed like a weapon, that when the word comes it's like the bomb going off in another, more typical hit man film. The implicit method taken to what's a pretty customary plot establishes a vibe of anticipation accelerated by the emotional rhythm of Herbert Grönemeyer's discreet music. The American is a stark, firmly coiled thriller that's less the story of a man who kills for a living than what that life has extorted from his heart.Anton Corbijn covers a peaceful Italian countryside as poetic as screenwriter Rowan Joffe's dialogue is reserved. There's not an erroneous shot. His compositions and pacing thereof make you tense and dubious, and look and listen to all the minutiae in a scene. The filmmakers win our conviction so that whatever twists they unravel us are effective. Every performance is firmly restrained. Clooney's in thorough control of his impression. Corbijn uses a buildup of cutting based on the physical nature of time, careful visual composition and controlled temporal duration of shots to fuse the film's effect on us for a more dense and abstract effect than eliciting our most basal and knee-jerk reactions. It's easy to think that Corbijn's obviously more concerned with ambiance, environment and visual annotation than in the plot, because the plot's very standard. But the story, the thematic core of it, is what determines how we has cast it, how it looks, how it's cut, scored, even the opening titles. The film's low-key delights depend solidly on the persistent flavor of secrecy around its star, and its artistically unspoiled director keeps the temper dense. Even the clothes unassumingly contribute an enormous amount of comfort to the actors' delivery and to the style of the film.Like the majority of the projects Clooney's chosen in the past decade, The American looks and feels like a movie made by a filmmaker who hasn't been to the movies since the '70s, and I mean that as the utmost tribute. It's a mom-and-pop shop vulnerably flanked by a big box store mad dash, and I expect it will compensate hard for that at the box office. But for patient filmgoers, it has an cool, forceful concentration. And, like its hero, when it does ultimately pull the trigger, it hits right between the eyes.
the second-best movie of 2010 (by TheUnknown837-1)
Before anybody reading this review goes to see "The American," let me give you some sincere advice. If you are expecting this to be another Jason Bourne or James Bond-style of movie with elaborate action sequences, tight pacing, and ear-throbbing music...you had better stay away, for you will be sorely disappointed. The advertising campaign and production photographs gives one the impression that George Clooney is taking on a role in a movie like Liam Neeson did in that marvelously powerful thriller "Taken" released in 2008. But that is not the case. "The <more>
American" is shot on a foreign location, features a lot of foreign dialect, and was made by a Dutch director with a mostly Italian cast. In other words, it's not really an American action production. It's an Italian melodrama and a really fascinating one at that.Lots of questions are raised and very few of them are given answers detailed ones, at least in this incredibly affecting thriller. We know and find out very little about our protagonist George Clooney who goes by two names: Jack and Edward. All we know is that he's a trained killer, somebody wants him to manufacture a special rifle for an assassination, and that's about it. We don't find out who exactly he works for, and we really don't need to. Clooney is an American sent into an Italian town for a last assignment. While he is waiting for the right time, Clooney tries to avoid being shot at by assassins, and begins a relationship with a prostitute Violante Placido which slowly transforms from lust to love.This is not really an action picture and to a certain extent, it's not even really a thriller. "The American" is a transfixing character study. We learn not about the George Clooney character's history, but his integrity as a human being, which it not very much. Director Anton Corbijn frequently has Clooney in a one-note personality and sets up his cameras at a combination of close-ups and medium shots that remain static as he performs rather mundane tasks as he waits for his assignment to come through. One would assume that this would produce tedium and boredom and for some people, it will be just that. But for me, and those who really get involved, this is rather fascinating and it doesn't drag on for very long at all.However, the best scenes in the movie revolve around the relationship between George Clooney and Violante Placido, who is effective and charismatic as the prostitute who falls in love with him. The director sets up earlier scenes of them having sex and then later changes the direction to show them not as a pair of sex-starved individuals looking for a way to kill a boring night, but as two human beings who care for each other. At first, I was questioning the point of the Placido character and I was griping, as I usually do, about the sex scenes and how they seem, as usual, to have no purpose. But now in hindsight, I commend the filmmakers for their choice. The sex scenes, for once, are appropriate because they show how the relationship between these two characters evolves from lecherousness to a pure and affectionate love.Director Anton Corbijn and cinematographer Martin Ruhe have done a superb job at crafting their nostalgia-stirring opus. The movie's misc en scene and lighting is absolutely wonderful. The film is great to look at as well as experience. There are some marvelous and more importantly, creative landscape and interior shots and it's almost a treat that the camera is frequently locked-down so we can admire these moments.In regards to the performances, they are solid. George Clooney proves his worth as an actor yet again with his portrayal of this tormented, cynical man of few words. Violante Placido is also very effective as the girl. Thekla Reuton is icy and more than scenic in her performance as the in-between person working with Clooney. Paolo Bonacelli is compelling as the priest whom Clooney befriends, and Johan Leysen is chilling in his moments as the mysterious individual who always answer his phone with a gruff "Yeah?" "The American" is one of the best movies of the year. However, I cannot guarantee that many people will agree with my statement. First of all, because a lot going in will be misled that this is a high-tensity action picture like "The Bourne Identity" and when they find out it's not, they will leave the theater feeling vastly empty. So that's why I am giving you warning. Don't go in with that attitude. Go in with expectations for a fascinating, nostalgia-stirring character study and be especially keen as you watch the relationship between Clooney and Placindo transform. And believe me: scenes that seem pointless at first will seem ideal when you look back on it in hindsight.
The cinematography is breath taking, but with top photographer Anton Corbijn at the helm, you wouldn't expect anything less. There's very little dialogue in this film, about 500 lines in total, which emphasizes the acting and the visual spectacle. Don't expect any CGI or amazing action scenes. It's just not that kind of film. It's a homage to C'era una volta il West by Sergio Leone, to The Day of the Jackal the original! by Fred Zinnemann and writer Frederick Forsyth, to Italy and in a way to Clooney. The deliberate slow pace will put a lot of people off. The movie <more>
is about professionalism, betrayal, loneliness, revenge and love. How good "bad" people can be. A wonderful film, that will not be valued by the average Hollywood loving movie goers, but a must see for people who love movies and for whom movie-making is an art.
A fascinating film, but not for everyone (by Argemaluco)
The publicity from The American suggests it is an action and adventure film, when it is in fact a melancholic and deep drama.I liked The American very much, but I perfectly understand why its slow rhythm and calm narrative would make it inaccessible to those people who expect to see shootouts and explosions.And that is not a problem from the film or from the people, but from the distributors, who did not know how to sell this movie.The American is developed parsimoniously, dividing its time in the methodic way in which the main character constructs a rifle; the flourishing romance among two <more>
people who are hungry of affection; and the occasional moments of suspense.Oh, and we also have conversations between the main character and a priest, which contribute to reveal the psychology from the first one mentioned.And all that is framed by the perfect Italian locations, which are full of atmosphere and detail, but without becoming into the idealized brochures from advertising agencies we have seen in movies which were also set in that country such as Letters to Juliet and Under the Tuscan Sun .I would have said that is an unusual style for director Anton Corbjin, who made many video-clips of Metallica, U2 and Depeche Mode...if he had not already shown his firm hand and measured vision in the excellent film Control.In order to make a relaxed narrative like the one from The American to work, we need a good actor in the leading role, so that we can perceive the thoughts from the main character in an almost intuitive way.Fortunately, George Clooney is one of those actors, and his brilliant performance in The American is one of the best attributes from this movie.The rest of the cast also made a good work, highlighting Violante Placido, Johan Leysen and Thekla Reuten.The brief sequences from The American which could be considered as "action" look almost anti-climatic...like an interruption in the paused routine from the main character.And this is one of the few movies in which the romance is not used as a forced ornament, but as an integral part from the screenplay.The only negative element from The American is that there are a few scenes which feel out of context.However, that minor fail did not avoid me from having a fascinating time with The American, which I very enthusiastically recommend with the warning that you do not have to expect shootouts and explosions.
As an action thriller, I'd give this film maybe a 2/10. But that is not what it was intended to be. The ads and marketing of the film falsely suggest this is an action film, and that is a great disservice both to the film and to the audience. I suspect that the film's rating would be higher had the marketing been honest. It is almost the opposite of action: it's a quiet, introspective film. I didn't expect a thriller and so I wasn't disappointed.As usual in this kind of film, there is not a lot of backstory. We never find out exactly where Jack came from, how he found his <more>
job, why he could take such a job, etc. But that's not really the point. We never really find out much about the back story on the other characters, either. I think we actually found out more about the priest.I enjoyed the film in about the same way I would enjoy a short story, which focuses on a few points rather than furnishing a history and full explanation.
A superb classy, 70's style thriller (by technofunkie)
A hit man losing his nerve and wanting out is one of the most played-out story lines in film history. But as with all over used story lines, a good film can move past the cliché with its creativity and cinematic integrity; Anton Corbijn's second film The American, does just that.Film director Howard Hawk once said "a good movie is three good scenes and no bad ones", The American is a great example of just that as the film opens with one of those great scenes. Setting the mood perfectly, the film begin as an attempt on Clooney's character's life goes wrong, sending him <more>
to Italy to meet with his employer and lay low.The plot of this film is not as important as the mood it creates. While it is slow, in no way does it meander. The pace is very deliberate, just as everything in this film is. The shots seem to be planned out perfectly, and the cinematography is strikingly beautiful. While the music, composed by Herbert Gronemeyer, is sparse; when it is used, it is to great effect, amplifying the mood of the scene.This kind of filmmaking may leave some people cold, especially in the first half of the film, but Clooney's masterful performance really cements an emotional connection with the audience. The love story of the film unfolds very much as one would expect with Clooney falling in love with a beautiful Italian prostitute, played by Violante Placido. But just like everything else in the film, what could have been clichéd and boring, comes off intriguing due to the actors' performances and the filmmaking.One flaw does rear its ugly head, and that is in the writing. Like the rest of the film, the writing is sparse and subdued, which can be a good thing, however some of the dialogue is strictly paint-by-numbers. The only other large flaw is an underdeveloped subplot involving Clooney befriending an priest, which seems to go nowhere.However, even with these flaws, I still enjoyed the film in it's entirety because of its style and mood.From the opening credit sequence, you can tell this film is not of its time. I do not want to say it is a homage or tribute to 70's thrillers, because I do not think it is. Corbijn's style is simply just old fashioned, in a very good way.The women are beautiful, with a look and a certain class we don't see much in film anymore. And that is what makes the whole film work. It has a classiness to it that is very rare in thrillers today. No shaky cam, or mile-a-minute pacing, instead we get a perfectly thought out thriller that takes its time to make its characters interesting and believable.The film's beginning and end were superb scenes. The final action scene is one of the most exciting I have had the pleasure of watching. I had no idea what was going to happen and where these characters were going to end up.The American may not be fast paced or action packed, but it is one of the best thrillers I have seen in a long time. While for some it may demand a certain level of patience, it rewards you with is a smart, beautifully shot, distinct thriller. A rarity these days.If you liked this review check out my blog at http://thedeletedscene.wordpress.com
Not what I was expecting, but a pleasant afternoon's pastime (by socrates99)
George Clooney is immediately likable in most of his movies, but this time he keeps his charming side subdued and under wraps. And it's all for a good cause because this is essentially a drawn out morality play which isn't likely to appeal to just anyone, or even most. I especially enjoyed the parts where the mechanics of things were alluded to, and there's a memorable performance by Thekla Reuten as an assassin that was unusually impressive. But I know for a fact that many people are not going to enjoy even those parts. Some reviewers have mentioned the cinematography but I <more>
didn't find it all that memorable. The location shots seemed more important to me but I'm just a moviegoer. The idea of the film I liked. What's being in this world really like? And there are several moments of dreadful suspense that are conveyed quite convincingly. But this is not a flashy film like the Bourne trilogy, it's far more mental and moody. Still I walked out entertained and I've no problem recommending it to serious moviegoers.