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Saturday, September 4, 2010

The American




George Clooney is The American. The only American in the movie The American. L'Americano. He even orders cafe Americanos. Also, he kills people. Well. Sometimes called Jack, Edward, or Mr. Butterfly, The American survives an assassination attempt on his life in Sweden. Spooked, Clooney hides out in the mountains of Abruzzo, Italy (if memory serves, this is where WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino hailed from). He's told by his handler not to make friends, but Clooney, even all bottled up and solo-minded, is at his core an affable guy. His likability shines through in spite of himself as he befriends a local priest and falls for the Hottest, Nakedest Prostitute in Italy (Violante Placido). The American frustrates in that it's neither Bourne nor Bond; this is a stately, methodical thriller about an international assassin with precious few thrills to be had. Even the majestic vistas of the Italian mountains and the picturesque villages constructed there lose their impact as the audience waits for some action to wind up. Dialogue is also at a premium with only a few interesting conversations, the most compelling are between Clooney and the priest. "You are American. You think you can avoid history." Posing as a photographer - a cover story the priest pokes holes through with just a few simple queries - Clooney's existence involves wandering the cramped cobblestone back alleys of the mountain village he's staying in all alone, occasionally shadowed by would-be assassins. Breaking up that monotony is Clooney's rather interesting work: his main task is to craft and supply custom-made weapons to a fellow hitwoman (Thekla Reuten) for her next job. Watching Clooney construct explosive bullets and assemble made-to-order rifles out of spare parts is actually pretty fascinating. Unfortunately, The American's Italian vacation ends exactly as expected for a story like this. Despite his promises to his gorgeous Italian lover, he can't take her with him because The American can't go home again.