Action Movies, by Ajay Singh, 17 March 2011

Director: Anton Corbijn

Stars: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Irina Björklund, Thekla Reuten, Bruce Altman, Samuli Vauramo

Country: USA

Runtime: 105 min

Release Date:

Language: English | Italian

Official Site: The American Official Site

The American may at first be seen as another movie featuring George Clooney. Surprisingly, this role is different from his usual screen image and reflects his attempt to present himself as a diverse actor who can create the image of a lonely, tormented, disillusioned person, and show intense character development throughout the film.

His choice of material for this task may be seen as unexpected. He had to completely reinterpret the original image, as The American’s Jack has almost nothing to do with the Mr. Butterfly of the novel. The skillful firearms customizer, very proud of his unique expertise disappears, giving place to a dark person torn by doubt, dissatisfaction, and despair.

George Clooney in "The American"

George Clooney in "The American"

All the main features of a cliché thriller are there, including suspense, chase sequences, assassins, sniper shooting, and a shadow following the main character. Yet the film only pretends to be a thriller. Clooney clearly thinks that he is playing a Dostoevsky character with some Berdyaev flair. Religious existentialism penetrates every pore of the film’s tissue.

Jack meets people who influence him and change his life because he is ready for a change. There are no accidental people in his life. Everyone has a purpose and symbolizes specific spiritual struggles and revelations that he is going through. Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) appears as an ancient prophet who sees into Jack’s soul and predicts his future. Mathilde (Thekla Reuten) plays the part of an admonishing force striking from above. Clara (Violante Placido), a young prostitute, clean of heart and worthy of redemption is destined to become the Mary Magdalen of the plot, leading up to Clooney’s embodiment of the lead role. He adds his usual charm to the character, overdoing the elegance, which makes it difficult to decide if he wants to be percieved as Carry Grant or Jesus Christ. Probably the last, as he comes to the point of spiritual resurrection and unity with the universe already fatally wounded and on the verge of his physical death. Yet he dies a saved soul.

Unfortunately, you cannot avoid the feeling that all this symbolic/mythological/existential angst is as false as the thriller genre pretence. The dialogues are empty and the whole plot, heavy on psychology, looks pompous and pretentious.

By the way, the literary source was much nicer to the characters. Father Benedetto leaves as well as Mr. Butterfly, who flees quite alive, dumping Clara.

American [Blu-ray] [2010] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
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Studio: Universal Home Video
Running Time: minutes

List Price:
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3.4 out of 5 stars (158)

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