The American is definitely not the movie for those looking for a James Bond type of action thriller. It paced itself at an unapologetically steady rhythm, allowing the plot and characters to develop without the need to throw in fluff to keep the audience’s attention. George Clooney is absolutely brilliant as Jack, a professional killer of mysterious origin. The backdrop of the movie takes place mostly within the mountainous villages of Italy, it was very reminiscent of The Living Daylights but a bit more intelligent and serious in its tone.
Like a Bond movie all of the female players are beautiful and Jack is the consummate professional. His body is realistically built in a way that reflects an athletic older man. He does push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups throughout the movie to keep it honest and he never cracks a smile – he is everything that you would expect a professional to be. Seeing Clooney in this role makes me wonder why he wasn’t pushed harder into the shoes of James Bond 007, as he channeled Connery a bit in that old grizzled, ladies man type of way.
Across from Clooney are two beautiful actresses in Thekla Reuten as the female professional Mathilde, and Violante Placido as a delicious working girl named Clara. The movie feels like the seventies with the machismo, unshaved nudes and that old-style Italian backdrop to complement it all. One of my favorite characters was Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli), a priest that serves as a necessary balance to the super private and stoic Jack. He’s a priest you can get behind as he drinks Brandy, has mile long insight and takes on a fatherly role automatically just by talking to him. The scenes between him and Clooney were memorable and lend some of the only clues into the nature of our protagonist.
No, this isn’t going to do well with everyone (the movie that is) but for audiences that want a great story, this is one of them. Younger Michael Bay fans may call it boring and kids with no attention span will be tempted to flick on their iPhones and surf Facebook (the latter was what we experienced about an hour in). Calling a movie like this boring is a bit unfair in my opinion since it never fools you into believing anything other than story was going to occur. It starts off silently in score and in action and immediately warns you that it is meant to be an intelligent film.
If there was anything that I could have changed it would have been some sort of clue into what Jack really is/was and what had brought him to the place where the movie develops. Was there a Mrs. Jack at one time and who and what (besides the tattoo on his arm) had trained him to be so damned efficient. But with that said, check it out if you are interested in seeing great acting and superb visuals at a steady pace but please avoid if you are expecting Bad Boys II. The American was brilliant and I loved the ending for what it’s worth and look forward to owning it upon release.