‘The American’ shows its stuff
When looking at the poster for “The American,” one could possibly think it has a ’60s-ish type of presentation. The bold orange background has the etchings of a woman’s face, along with a black-and-white image of a
sprinting James Bond-looking George Clooney with the iconic 007 special issue PPK – and finally, the bold words: GEORGE CLOONEY IS THE AMERICAN. This is result of being a film that gives the impression of a modern day James Bond/assassin spy movie that is fused with the spaghetti western type films that were popular back in that time.
George Clooney plays “A Very Private Gentleman” (the novel by Martin Booth that the film is based on) and is sent to lay low in a small town in Italy by his contact after a failed attempt on his life in Sweden. The target is an assassin (played by George Clooney), known as Jack and/or Edward throughout the film, and strolls around the town while receiving strange looks while being anti-social, he ends up befriending a priest named Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and a beautiful prostitute, Ingrid (Irina Bjorklund). Looking behind his shoulder at every turn and alleyway, Jack/Edward’s character lacks humane characteristics — an ideal talent, considering what he does. Finally vowing that his lay low assignment, making a gun for a fellow lone assassin, is his last, Jack/Edward begins to step out of the shadows and pursue Ingrid, as well as a normal life, tempting fate that is already not in his favor.
The slow-paced, almost soundtrack absent ingredients of the film give it an extreme sense of suspense, leaving the viewer wondering what is going to happen to the story, as well as the well-being of “The American.” Directed by Anton Corbijn and adapted by Rowan Joffe (co-writer of “28 Weeks Later”), “The American” is a story that challenges the protagonist, who is not supposed to change, risking everything to do just that.
There is an obvious homage to Sergio Leone’s 1968 spaghetti western “Once Upon a Time in the West” that is on a television in a store that Clooney goes into at some point during the film. It shows Henry Fonda pull out a revolver with an extreme close-up of his face before firing at a crying child. This is validation on the desired outcome of the way the film goes, showing a film from the director famous for making westerns in Italy during the ‘60s – the slow pace, silence, and monotone voices that are periodically interrupted by loud, mostly unexpected gunshots is very western-esque.
It isn’t for everyone, however; like all movies there are people who are disappointed with it. “I didn’t like it, I liked ‘Michael Clayton’ better,” Tom Frank, a biology junior said. “I was just expecting action so it disappointed me, I guess it was a learning experience to never go into a movie expecting something.” There is also pretty explicit sexuality/nudity in it that might make family get-togethers at the movies awkward, to say the least.