The American (2010)

the american poster 2010 movie george clooney
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good looking

Misses the target and wastes the visuals and the actors

Movie Info

Movie Name: The American

Studio: Focus Features

Genre(s): Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): September 1, 2010

MPAA Rating: R

the american opening george clooney

If you were to judge this movie on the opening sequence, it would be a tense thriller…

A high end assassin named Jack (George Clooney) finds his trip interrupted by a hit on him.  Retreating to Italy, Jack’s handler Pavel (Johan Leysen) tells Jack of a new assignment for a woman named Mathilde (Thekla Reuten).  Jack is beginning to doubt his fortitude to the assassination life, but being an assassin is something that you can’t easily leave.  With one final assignment on the list, Jack questions a life after being an assassin and finds himself falling in love with a prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido)…but someone could be hunting Jack.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, The American is a spy-assassin thriller drama.  The film is an adaptation of the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth.  The movie was met with mixed reviews.

the american george clooney palo bonacelli

…but then the assassin walks around talking to priests and such for a chunk of the film

The trailers and promotion for The American didn’t do much for me.  I like George Clooney, but it all seemed very bland.  Watching the movie now, I can see my initial take on the film wasn’t that far off.

The movie crawls.  It is intentional, but it also isn’t necessarily what you’d expect going into an espionage thriller.  While it deals with Clooney’s character’s moral dilemmas, the story doesn’t feel like it goes deep enough into what goes through a professional killer’s mind.  It has been done as a comedy multiple times from Grosse Pointe Blank to Get Shorty to HBO’s Barry, but despite those series being comedies, I felt they dove deeper than The American.

Clooney also feels wasted.  He does his George Clooney brooding character as opposed to the clever and wry Clooney of films like Out of Sight.  As demonstrated in some scenes, he was in pretty good shape for the film, but it seems like it never paid out.  Not all movies need a big action scene, but even the semi-action scenes felt rather blasé and never utilized his skill.  The exception might be the opening scene which demonstrates his character’s level of commitment to the trade…but the movie never peaks after the tense opening.

the american george clooney assassin thekla reuten

…the movie needs more of this intensity

What can’t be complained about is the visuals of the film.  With the nice Italian setting, Corbijn makes the movie look great, and despite the script, the scenes builds the tension as best they can.  Visually, the movie excels which makes the fact that it is a snoozer all the more depressing.

The American feels like it has a goal, but it misses that goal.  The look and style of the film is right and the casting is right, but the story and plot development never meet up.  Halfway through the movie, I was checking the time and couldn’t find my way into the world being created…which is half the joy of a movie (especially when a movie is a bit dark).  It was a slow-burn movie that never caught fire.  Skip The American…and visit another Italian film or assassin film instead.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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