is the second movie directed by celebrated photographer Anton Corbijn, so as
you can imagine, it looks stunning.
However, there is a huge difference between still photography and moving
pictures. Movies have to move (hence the name…) and The American
moves kind of slow. It is moody and dour and just a tiny bit meandering.
is sort of an artier, much more serious and usually less violent variation
on In Bruges, in which a hardened assassin must spend an extended
period in a small European hamlet and comes to be charmed by the locals and
the beautiful scenery – and a gorgeous woman of questionable legality.
However, as much as he wants to settle into a calmer existence in this
medieval village, the violence of his past keeps rearing up.
Actually, here, the violence is always in the background, but as often as
not it is the American killer’s own paranoia that haunts him. He imagines
potential violence that often never happens. Before a rather bloody final
showdown, many of the American’s perceived booby traps turn out to be false
alarms cooked up in his own fevered self-preservation.
aren’t out to get
you. However, the assassin’s halting steps towards trust, friendship and
love are always countered by the natural mistrust of human nature that was
bred into the man through years of violent experience. Just
because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that they
guy has completely cut emotions out of his life – in the prologue we watch
him coldly shoot a lover in the back of the head, simply because she had the
bad fortune to witness him being ambushed by Swiss assassins who were
hunting him down. (Aren’t the Swiss supposed to be neutral?)
George Clooney, you’re trying to change the nice guy image, huh?
Clooney does a good job playing Jack, a man so cut off from his own humanity
for so long that he almost sees human emotions as a weakness.
After the botched ambush, a crime boss sends Jack to a little Italian
village to stay out of sight while things cool off. Jack spends most of his
time alone – drinking at local cafes, exercising, taking pictures (his cover
story is that he is a photographer working on a travel book), visiting a
small secluded lake and exploring the town.
However, Jack finally lowers his defenses – somewhat – in two relationships
he makes in the town. He befriends an older, imperfect-but-pragmatic priest
who sees the dark overtones in Jack, but also sees inherent goodness beneath
his tough exterior.
Jack tentatively enters a relationship with a stunningly gorgeous local
prostitute (Violante Placido) – starting as a regular customer but quickly
becoming her boyfriend. (Because, yeah, that happens. Well, okay, maybe it
does when you look like George Clooney and are smoldering and mysterious.)
Therefore, finally seeing an opportunity for a normal life, Jack tells the
crime boss that he wants out after one last job – and anyone who has ever
seen a crime drama knows what that means.
has some great moments, looks absolutely gorgeous and features a strong lead
performance by Clooney, however it is one of the more bloodless
(figuratively as well as literally) films about an assassin in a while.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: September 16, 2010.