Sunday, September 5th, 2010

movie poster for The American

The American is the kind of movie I would have eaten up with a spoon when I was about eighteen years old. I was so into assassins back then that I cultivated the Hollywood version of the hit man’s personality, detached almost to the point of autism, wandering the streets of town in dark sunglasses looking for my mark. Just bizarre behavior when you think about it, or even if you don’t.

But now movies about assassins make me feel about the way George Clooney looks almost all the way through The American. In just about every scene he wears an expression that says, “When the hell is this going to be over?

The American didn’t hold a lot of surprises, which is unfortunate because I think it was supposed to be a suspense movie. You can work out right away that he’s a little too nervous to come out of the movie alive. (Oh, sorry: Spoiler alert.) I thought it was also pretty obvious that the guy Clooney works for, face as craggy as a dead coral reef and voice ruined by a lifetime of smoking, was A Very Bad Man. The director could have made it more obvious, I suppose, maybe by giving him a fluffy white cat to stroke. He was that kind of character.

Or maybe the movie was supposed to be a thriller, in which case it worked, if you get your thrills watching a professional assassin kill a dozen or so other professional assassins as easily as you’d swat bugs. One by one the assassins tracked Clooney down, and one by one they succumbed to his super assassin powers. One of them tried to get away in a late-model car, only to be run down by Clooney riding an antique Vespa. He was absolutely unbeatable, until the showdown with Mister Craggy Face. Oops. Sorry: Spoiler Alert.

I couldn’t find a way to make this movie work for me at all. There wasn’t much in the way of suspense, and what little drama they might have managed to generate was lost jumping through hackneyed crime-movie cliches. Too bad.

The American | 8:57 pm CST
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