They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but we're all guilty of it. What they should probably also say is: You can't judge a movie by its poster, which is exactly what I did before I saw The American, starring George Clooney. On the poster, Clooney is running with a gun in his hand with a stern look of concentration on his face. I was expecting an action-packed, James Bond-esque film, except that Clooney is an assassin instead of a spy. I was mistaken.
After a job gone awry in Sweden, where in addition to his mark, he also kills his girlfriend, Jack (just "Jack," kinda like Madonna) is sent to Italy to lay low. In the off time he's to talk to no one, and do one last job for which his finger won't be on the trigger. Jack is hired to build a custom weapon for a female assassin. In the meantime, he befriends a priest, and falls for an Italian prostitute.
Clooney's character is basically the same ol' character we've come to expect from him in recent years: the lonely, workaholic who finally perks up at the prospect of opening up to another person, then he eventually and difficultly finds love. A melancholy Clooney appears in nearly every frame of the film, and for those lovesick for the handsome leading man, they'll get plenty of scenes with him shirtless. There is, however, the weird butterfly tattoo between his shoulder blades to think about though.
The film doesn't pack quite the punch one might expect and it could have been a better suspenseful thriller. It could be said that the quiet, loneliness of the film builds the trepidation, but that never really happens. The American ends up mostly boring.
Maybe it's the fast-paced, action-loving American in me that hoped The American would be more thrilling. Or perhaps, if I hadn't judged the film by its poster and gone in expecting a high-energy gun-slinging action flick, I would have enjoyed it more. Either way, The American's minimalist approach to dialogue and plot left me wanting more.
Directed by Anton Corbijn.
Starring George Clooney