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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look51.43%
Average: 37.14%
Pretty Bad: 2.86%
Total Crap: 8.57%

4 reviews, 11 user ratings

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American, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"Losing His Edge"
3 stars

George Clooney is going down, down stone steps and steep hills, down the map from Sweden to Italy. He’s a man known by many names – Jack, Edward, Mr. Butterfly – who always looks over his shoulder as he walks and often picks a corner when he sits. He knows how to make guns, he knows how to use them, and he knows that he’s being followed by men and women who are similarly skilled. And if he isn’t careful, then he’ll go down for good.

Clooney’s character is good at this, taking his time to take out his targets and taking breaks with which to satisfy countless beautiful women (cipher Thekla Reuten wants him to build her a weapon while prostitute Violante Placido wants him to be more than another client), and Clooney’s good at this: the weary loner whose life-ending career defines his entire lifestyle (Up in the Air, Michael Clayton, Syriana).

Director Anton Corbijn (Control) is adept at delivering surface slickness, approaching a bombastic genre with a spare score, austere shots, crisp cuts and minimal flair. The music video vet has made a spy thriller with the suppressor on, anachronistic in that the one cell phone in sight gets literally thrown out the window, patient and precise in its attempt to align the viewer’s frame of mind with the mounting paranoia of our methodical mystery man. It’s In Bruges without the fun, The Limits of Control without the frustration, eager to substitute distinct personality with vague existential dread.

Screenwriter Rowan Joffe delivers the requisite story beats and role reversals, but his characters are thinly realized at best. We don’t know who “Jack” was or what he’s done to put himself in the crosshairs, but we come to learn what he’s capable of and that’s enough to know. Everyone else serves as either hope for the future or a threat from the past, with no shades in between. The violence is sudden, the sex impassioned, the scenery in every sense gorgeous, the politics muted, the mood meditative and the symbolism obvious. (The man has a thing for butterflies.) Nothing here is any more pronounced than it needs to be, an admirable quality in an age of cinematic excess, but it rarely seems less than familiar.

There are certainly some artful moments on display, but 'The American' feels more like a work of craft than a work of art, deliberate and derivative to an equal extent. Clooney’s gone down this road before; perhaps more importantly, so have we.

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originally posted: 09/04/10 07:43:16
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User Comments

8/04/20 Ed Riddick Put together like a Swiss watch. Every scene fascinating and important. Maybe 5 stars. 4 stars
12/29/17 morris campbell boring imho 1 stars
8/14/11 Joe smaltz Lots of eye candy, female and Italy. 4 stars
2/28/11 Sabaka Doesn't work for me. 1 stars
1/14/11 millersxing a potent potboiler, if a bit predictable 4 stars
1/10/11 mr.mike Dull yet watchable, well played by Clooney , ending is so-so. 4 stars
1/04/11 David Young Clooney personally owews me 22 buck for that trash. 1 stars
1/02/11 Monday Morning Completely, deadly slow and boring. 2 stars
9/04/10 Joe Excellent movie. Not too much useless dialogue. One of my favorite movies. 4 stars
9/03/10 Anders G A film that satisfies in how much it does NOT tell us and succeeds as a quality film 4 stars
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  01-Sep-2010 (R)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2010

  26-Nov-2010 (15)

  11-Nov-2010 (MA)
  DVD: 28-Dec-2010

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Anton Corbijn

Written by
  Rowan Joffe

  George Clooney
  Thekla Reuten
  Paolo Bonacelli
  Violante Placido
  Bruce Altman

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