THE AMERICAN is a very delicate movie. When one thinks of action movies, “delicate” is not a word he or she would use. This should instantly tell you what kind of movie this is.
George Clooney plays Jack (or Edward, he switches off his name), an American hit man of sorts. The movie is about his time in a small Italian town. After shooting down some people in Sweden, he is lying low, befriending a priest, falling for a prostitute, and piecing together a gun. Everything is very real. Nothing is stylized or overly glorified. If you’re looking for a James Bond or Jason Bourne type of movie, this is not it. This is not about finding the solution to an evil plot. It is about an assassin’s life.
In many ways, it is very depressing. The loneliness, guilt, hopelessness are seen in Jack’s eyes. There is not much dialogue. You watch Jack go through his daily habits and business. He carefully puts a gun together. His preciseness and focus speak louder than words. Much of his dialogue is shared with the priest. Their conversations enlighten us on what Jack may be thinking, but he still remains very-closed off. Watching this movie was like reading a book, without any insight into the main characters mind. It comes down to what you know of people and yourself to decipher the emotions that go through Jack’s face. The action scenes are brief and to the point. No extra choreography is added to make the scene longer and “cooler.”
The director, Anton Corbijn, does a brilliant job. The movie is very aesthetically pleasing, not in an obnoxious way. You do not see the Italy of the travel books, but a simple, old town. The town compliments Jack. In a way, it mirrors his feelings. Corbijn filmed this indulgently. Every shot felt more like a photograph or work of art.
Being number one at the box office is not a surprise. George Clooney + “American” + Labor Day = $$ (Despite that amount being only an unimpressive $13 million on a holiday weekend) However, when leaving the theater, I overheard many people voicing disappointment. Much of “nothing” happens in this movie. If you aren’t into really “artsy” films, skip it. If you are, this is definitely a must-see.
Are you going to see THE AMERICAN? If you saw it already, tell us what you thought!