Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The American: A Thought Provoking, Mishandled, Introspection on the Inglorious Life of an Assassin

By: Da’Mon Guy

     The American is a thought provoking, exceedingly slow paced introspection into an inglorious life of solitude that is led by contract killers. The film is an alternative visualization of the assassin genre of films. The movie stars George Clooney (Ocean’s 11, 12, & 13), Violante Placido (Fade to Black), Thekla Reuten (Highlander: The Source), Paolo Bonacelli (Mission Impossible 3), and Johan Leysen (The Brotherhood of the Wolf).

     A lonely assassin seeks refuge in Italy after an attempt on his life. Traveling to Italy for a safe haven, he begins to fall in love with a Italian prostitute. As he attempts to quit the profession, he takes one last job.

     The American is a sluggish, borish, alternative perspective of the assassin film genre. The movie explicitly showcases how abysmal the life of an assassin is. If the James Bond series of films is the Hollywood take on spy films, then The American, is the Anti-James Bond take on the genre. The film’s perspective unequivocally illustrates how the choice for this lifestyle is a existence of isolation, loneliness, and solitude.

     The theme of the movie is the solidarity and the emptiness that assassins must endure to maintain a level of anonymity. This movie goes through excessively mind-numbing measures to establish the seclusion that assassins are made to live as they are bound by their profession. The theme of the movie is admirable. It makes this a unique film. There are a number of films made that glorify the profession of killing but not many showcase the downside of the profession. This movie unmistakably exemplifies the downside of this violent style of life.

     The American is an astute observation into one of the killing professions master craftsman. The film establishes how in putting his profession first, he has lost much of the social connectivity that most take for granted. George Clooney does an admirable job as the reclusive assassin. The movie aptly details his ineptitude to be able to relate with people. Jack (Clooney) is unable to maintain a relationship of any emotional relevance and the movie does a great job at showcasing it as Jack uses very little dialogue in most of it. His inability to connect is evident in every interaction.

     The plot is very predictable but well written. Deeply intertwined in the painstaking, extremely lethargic tale is a misguided love story. Jack’s desperate search to connect leads him to the arms of a prostitute with who he establishes a connection. In spite of his high level of mistrust, Jack longs for any form of substantial human connectivity. Jack reaches out to the few people in his new surroundings. He befriends Father Benedetto and begins to establish a sexual relationship that matures into something deeper with a local hooker, Clara. As the dreary days drag on Jack finds himself opening up to the two of them. The attempt on his life and his new found relationships cause Jack to refute his profession.

     The film’s cinematography accentuates the story as the camera is used to create a feeling of insecurity. Multiple angles are used to illustrate Jack’s degree of psychosis. Many of the scene are from behind, this causes the audience to feel his sense of uncertainty and anxiety. The minimal amount of action sequences were quick and to the point. Helping to establish a level of realism in the film. The movie is about the inglorious aspect of the profession and the action sequences support the premise. Even when one of them finally occur, we are left irrefutably unsatisfied as killing should compel you to feel.

     The American has two huge detractors. First, the trailers are extremely misleading. The trailers seduces the audience to believe the movie is an action filled spy thriller and not a thought provoking introspection into the life of unsatisfying seclusion. This misdirection is a huge detractor to those who decide to see the film. The second is the pace of film. The movie moves extremely slow, almost boring to the point of exasperation. The first hour of the film is an extreme misuse of time. The film illustrates the lonely, disconcerting life of Jack by boring us to death. The film’s premise is illustrated to the point of losing the attention of the audience. This is a good thought provoking film but not an experience that I would recommend. The movie’s pace is far too slow causing you to lose sight of the theme of the movie. It’s snails pace makes the running time feel twice as long as it actually is. A good insightful perspective embedded within an extremely poor delivery.

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