THE AMERICAN Review

This is not what I expected. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm really unsure what to think of the film. 'The American' is a quiet film with a quiet performance from Clooney. Clooney is at a point in his career where he is now certified to make whatever kind of films he wants and here he is interested in making a slow boiling thriller that hearkens back to the style of foreign films in the 80's and early 90's that worked in the same genre. Whereas I never really gave the trailer a good look I feel like it hinted at something entirely different than what this film actually is. It was made to seem a star vehicle that was packed with action and espionage. The actual movie is slow, restrained and artsy to a hilt. Most of the talk around this film concerns director Anton Corbijn, whom I've never heard of before, and his debut as a studio director. I don't know if you could call this a big studio film though as only a handful of people are killed, most by Clooney in a tight spot, there are no car crashes, though a scooter gets pretty banged up and there is no over the top camera work or hardly any music. What music does exist is subtle and restrained. Much like the images itself, there are shots that we see a few times and not much camera movement-for example, Corbijn really likes the back of Clooney's head as well as his side profile. The entire thing is rather static and it is a slow build to a rather anti-climatic finale. The story revolves around Clooney hiding out in Italy somewhere and coming to terms with the fact his time will run out and that he will not always have the opportunities afforded him at his present age. He wants to get out and is doing one last job of building a gun for a contact. Clooneys character who we believe is Jack clearly enjoys retreating from his normal life of on the run and assassinations. We understand his dilemmas and internal conflict and know nothing good will come of him trying to escape what he has made his life to be. The film asks interesting questions-why would someone sign up for a life they know will cause them to be constantly worried and suspicious? Why do something that will forbid you from things you some day desire? Clooney speaks to us with his eyes and never gives in to an overly-dramatic performance. This is the story of Bond without all the flash, without the martinis and the sleek cars. This is a character study of someone who has to deal with killing people for a living and hoping it will be justified when it is their time. The film is a good topic to open up conversation but it never really gets into the questions it is in fact posing. 'The American' will not be remembered as Clooneys greatest moment or as a great film, because in the end it is rather boring and could only be viewed with much intrigue the first time around. It has style and grace, but it is never exciting or interesting as a thriller should be.