It's nearly impossible to find fault with George Clooney. Award-winning writer, producer, director, actor and humanitarian, Clooney never fails to deliver. In his new film, "The American," audiences will witness yet another side of the multi-faceted actor in a skillfully understated performance worthy of attention.
Clooney plays Jack, aka Edward, aka Mr. Butterfly. Whoever he is it's unwise to befriend him. The opening scene: While on a remote romantic romp in the Swedish countryside, a sniper takes a shot at Jack. Paranoid cold-blooded killer that he is, not only does he whack the shooter, he also puts a bullet in his girlfriend's brain for good measure.
On to Italy where Jack is commissioned by a beautiful hit woman (Thekla Reuten) to design a specialized weapon. For whom the gun is meant to eliminate is a mystery. Posing as a photographer in a small village, Jack hooks up with a priest, a mechanic and a prostitute (the ravishing Violante Placido). Trust is elusive for all concerned.
Director Anton Corbijn, well-known for his exquisite portrait photography, demonstrates that his incredible eye for perfection is just as impressive behind the movie camera. Amazing aerial shots, panoramic pans and exotic lighting elevate this simmering thriller to stunning stature.
"The American" has the feel of a foreign film carefully crafted. There's a subtle rather than in-your-face tension, which crescendos while the story unfolds. The tone of the movie is reminiscent of Antonioni's "The Passenger" (1975). In both, the protagonist is driven by purpose but locked in emptiness.
If you're expecting an action flick, "The American" will disappoint. If you're up for watching one of the most versatile and engaging actors knock your socks off, catch Clooney as you've never seen him before.
— Pam Nadon