I Saw A Film Today…The American

The cinema has always loved the spy movie and the spies they featured. Of course there is the martini drinking lady-killer Bond…James Bond. Then there is the lesser known Harry Palmer. The most recent memorable spy was Matt Damon’s  rough and tumble Jason Bourne. But as of late it seems all these secretive men have either been assassinated or missing in action. Harry Palmer has been out of the picture for years. Jason Bourne has moved on and is hiding out somewhere. And James Bond is currently being shaken, stirred, and on the verge of disappearing because of studio issues. But along comes George Clooney in The American. Can he help rejuvenate the spy drama?

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Jack (or Edward, depending on who he meets) is an assassin/specialty weapon maker. While having a relaxing vacation with his lover, Jackward is attacked by two assassins. He takes care of both of them and then must also kill his lover. Jack drives down to Italy to lie low and to meet up with his boss Paval (the well-defined Johan Leysen) who informs him of a job in a small village. Jack accepts.

While staying in the village, Jack fills his time doing push ups, drinking coffee, and building a custom rifle for his client Mathilde (Thekla Reuten, who you may recognize from In Bruges). He oddly befriends a priest (Paolo Benedetto), who spends his time trying to crack the tough exterior that Jack puts up. He also falls in love with a mysterious local prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido), who spends most of her time without any clothes on. But the longer that Jack stays in the small village the more the roles everyone plays begin to blur. Who can Jack trust and is really out to get him?

The American is a breath of fresh European air. American directors should take note how Dutchman Anton Corbijn crafted this film. A film does not need to move a hundred miles an hour from scene to scene and you do not have to kill someone every five minutes. The American has a slow, deliberate pace but still packs enough suspenseful punches to make you stay on the edge of your seat. It also focus on the story instead of a ton of action, which is a nice change of pace from all the summer blockbusters we have been bombarded with as of late.

George Clooney is in top form in this film and puts forth one his best performances. Clooney fully absorbs the role of Jack. All the supporting cast is great as well. Corbijn could have saturated this film with American actors who have to force fake and unbelievable accents but instead employs talented, lesser known European actors.

The American could have been given a limited release, but thankfully it was given a chance and released to a wider audience. I hope that Hollywood takes a lesson from this film and comes to realize that they should start shying away from big budget remakes and start producing more original works. Any way you look at it, you should at least give The American a watch.

Verdict: SEE IT!

So what do you think? Was The American any good or was it some Euro trash? Leave your comments and opinions below.

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