Thursday, November 28, 2013

#tbt The American review

Happy Throwback Thursday!
I remember back when The American came out, it was marketed as a gripping action thriller. The American, while it is about assassins and some very thriller-esque elements, is not at all a pulse pounding action flick that it was marketed as in the trailers. It's about an assassin and gun craftsman (George Clooney) who is on vacation in Italy, when he is given a new assignment. He goes only by the name of Jack. It suits him well. Jack is a solitary man with features that seem to be made of stone. He is quiet and emanates an aura of cold intensity, like that of a samurai. He has a dangerous past, and the way things seem to be going, his future will be just as dangerous. Jack doesn't want the danger anymore. He falls in love with a beautiful young prostitute named Clara and wants to spend his life with her. His boss has other plans. I've heard many people complain about the very slow pacing of The American. I have no problem with it. For if the movie had been a fast paced actioner of the same tier as say, The Bourne movies, it would've been a completely different film with much less meaning. It wouldn't really have fit. The movie has the same pace like that of a slow burning time bomb. The film's pace is almost reflective of the main character. Slow yet intense, and seemingly cut-and-dry yet more complex after a second glance. I also think the movie's title is very fitting. Clooney's character is just that American to everyone. To many in the film, he's known simply as The American. There's nothing special about him, he's just doing his job. But on second glance, he's more than that. The character of Jack reminded me very much of Ryan Gosling's character in Drive. The same stoic features and intense persona, both hopelessly in love, yet bound for a short and violent life. The American is superior to Drive though, because it manages to bring you deeper into this character. The American is different than any assassin or spy film I've ever seen. It focuses much more on the character's inner struggles than on bad guys with guns. It relies more on it's beautiful use of Italian scenery than fast car chases. Not that there's anything wrong with a good car chase every once in a while.At one point, Clooney is sitting in a Italian cafe. Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in The West is playing on the television in the cafe. I think you could make a comparison to Charles' Bronson's harmonica playing gunslinger. A quiet and subdued anti-hero who does what needs to be done, and no more. Some will not like The American for it's slow pace and sometimes unexplained plot. Although the climax is worth it and when you see how it all comes together, it's quite satisfying. The American is not a perfect film by any means. I'm not even sure if I'd want to watch it again. But I am glad I watched it once, and I urge you to do the same. Happy Viewing and Happy Thanksgiving guys. 
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  1. Good review Whit. I remember the advertisements for this really screwed the movie over. It wasn't the action-packed spectacle everybody was expecting, instead, it was a slow-burner that paid attention to its character, developed him and allowed the action to set in once the emotions began to become enough for us to reach out for.

    1. Thanks Dan. Very true. If people had known what they were going into, maybe they would've liked it more. Reminds me of The Counselor.