The trailer for the 2010 film “The American” made it look like a decent enough action film. Admittedly, I’m not a big George Clooney fan, but there have been a few of his movies I liked, so I thought I’d give this one a try. Since Clooney has a spotty record with me, I decided to rent the movie before buying it. I headed to the Blockbuster kiosk at 6900 Daniels Parkway (click here for a map) and picked it up. A couple of hours later, I was glad I made that decision.
Five minutes into the movie, things looked promising. Hitman Clooney had already capped 2 armed bad guys and an unarmed woman he’d been shacking up with and then went to meet some menacing looking Russian handler who told him to hide out. Unfortunately, that’s when the director put the brakes on and “The American” slowed to a crawl. The rest of the movie was filled with forgettable characters, semi-pointless sub-plots and too long sequences around the Italian countryside.
I’m cool with a slow pace in a film if it’s because we’re learning some important things about a character or building some suspense. That isn’t the case with “The American”. It’s just boring. We watch Clooney customize a rifle for a client, visit an Italian brothel and fall in love with a hooker, having superficial quasi-philosophical discussion with an old priest. Possibly the best action sequence in the rest of the movie is a lame, short lived chase between a hitman in some tiny econo-box car and Clooney riding a scooter with a propensity to backfire at inopportune times.
Clooney, the only really recognizable name in the movie, tries to portray himself as a secretive man of few words type. Instead he just comes off as wooden and boring. The director, Anton Corbijn, has a background in music videos. Sadly, he didn’t bring that history of short productions with him. At least we would have had a quicker end to this snoozer that way.
The professional critics, of course, tended to like this movie, talking about the suspense and comparing it to Japanese films I don’t know the title to. The aggregate score on Metacritic is 61 out of 100. If you call watching Clooney take drives in the country or look over his shoulder a lot while walking around narrow Italian streets “suspense”, then I guess it had some. I don’t consider that suspense. If you want to see people walk around the country in Italy, watch “The Godfather”, not “The American”.
The home DVD has some forgettable deleted scenes and a “making of” featurette. Neither of them make it worth buying this film.
If you have questions, suggestions or just want to tell him how wrong he is about this movie, email Alan.