The Amer­i­can (15)

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - FILM - Tony Earn­shaw

THIS spare and as­cetic com­bi­na­tion of ac­tion flick and in­tel­li­gent drama fo­cuses on a weary as­sas­sin as he flees to the con­ti­nent to es­cape hit­men on his trail. Once there, he re­luc­tantly agrees to one last job.

Jack (Ge­orge Clooney) is the trav­el­ling ex­e­cu­tioner at the heart of this oc­ca­sion­ally en­er­getic, fre­quently lan­guorous por­trait of a pro­fes­sional killer. It’s di­rected by An­ton Cor­bijn, who made his de­but with the Ian Cur­tis biopic Con­trol, and I sus­pect that the Clooney/Cor­bijn part­ner­ship did not nec­es­sar­ily lead to a shared per­spec­tive.

Part trav­el­ogue, part pas­sion play, The Amer­i­can charts the lonely killer’s iso­la­tion in a small Ital­ian town where he spends free time with priests and pros­ti­tutes while cre­at­ing a new weapon a la The Day of the Jackal for his mys­te­ri­ous fe­male coun­ter­part and client.

Clooney looks lean and mean, he’s hu­mour­less and se­ri­ous and the film emerges as the same. There are few laughs and at times Clooney looks bored, dis­in­ter­ested and dis­tant. He phones in his per­for­mance, com­ing to life only mo­men­tar­ily. That’s not to say The Amer­i­can is po-faced and pre­ten­tious, far from it. In­stead it is rem­i­nis­cent of a Jim Jar­musch movie but with­out the req­ui­site in­die edge.

There are flashes of Luc Bes­son’s Leon about this un­even and dour ad­ven­ture but, sadly, lit­tle of the chem­istry and charisma. It’s (un­doubt­edly de­lib­er­ately) Bourne-lite which ul­ti­mately makes it an art film mas­querad­ing as mul­ti­plex fare.

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