An assassin forms an unorthodox relationship with a prostitute and
begins to doubt his way of life as his employer rushes to take him out.
The American (2010)
Directed by Anton Corbijn
Written by Rowan Joffe
Starring George Clooney, Violante Placido,
Thekla Reuten, Johan Leysen, Paolo Bonacelli
Based on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth
When it comes to filmmaking, focus can make or break everything. If your film isn't focused enough, it won't make any sense. But if your film is too focused, it can crack under the pressure. The American suffers from the latter, becoming a film that manages to make assassinations in Rome about as fascinating as a freshly painted wall. The inexperienced filmmakers clearly relied on George Clooney to be the only selling point of this dull, forgettable 2010 thriller. But when your only well-known actor phones it in like there's no tomorrow, you can bet your film is not gonna make the "Best Of" lists anytime soon.
The film's biggest problem is that it's been done before, in every way possible. We've all seen the aging assassin whose emotionally damaged and falls in love with a prostitute while on the run from killers. I can name five different movies that pulled it off better than The American. The script is so insanely focused on every intense look, camera angle, and word of dialogue giving zero information about any character's motives. I'm never sure if we're supposed to like or hate Clooney's morally ambiguous hitman, but by standard movie rules, I guess we like him.
The characters are one-dimensional and generic as hell and the barely interesting plot is predictable and stale. Watching this film is akin to eating a bag of stale popcorn, as in you can taste the familiar flavor you usually enjoy, but there's a number of things keeping you from having a good time. The American succeeds in bringing absolutely nothing new to the table and condemning the film to movie Purgatory where it will stay for eternity.