The American stars George Clooney as Jack, a weapons handler who is on the run from a group he believes to be the Italian mafia. Jack has been working for the government for some time, and has subtly been trying to retire and get out of the business of making weapons. The problem is that Jack is continuously pulled in to do other assignments. This time jack’s assignment takes him to Italy. Jack is asked to make a high powered rifle that shoots up to 150 m. While enjoying his stay in Italy he realizes that he is being followed. The whole film is essentially a cat and mouse game between Jack and his assassin. He’s an American in a land of foreigners.
The American works as a film because of the tempo of the film and how it is paced. The film I would say is most reminiscent of Gran Torino or a much slower Bourne film. This is a film where having a specific knowledge of the lead protagonist or the environment in which he takes refuge would soil the movie. This film is a very tense thriller where the audience is just along for the ride trying to keep up with Jack as he travels around the Italian city hiding out from his pursuers. The goal of this film is simple watch a specialist complete what he hopes will be his last mission. For an audience this film is either going to be a serene treat or a complete waste of their time and money. For those who believe the film to be a treat, they will enjoy it because they get to see the frailty of a man who has spent his life thinking only of his government and not himself. People who love this film will believe in it because this film is a character study of a man fighting to see another day and that can be entertaining. For those who dislike the film it will be too slow for them because there isn’t a lot of action in the film and characters with depth don’t seem to be present. As a critic, I fall somewhere in the middle of the two camps. The film can be agonizingly slow but that pace has a purpose and safely gets us to our resolution without making us wonder why the movie ended as it did. The American recalls the days of the methodical thriller with a dash of a character study thrown in with solid acting by its lead. It’s a journey to an end that I’m happy to revisit when it hits video stores or Netflix.