Saturday, 4 December 2010

REVIEW: The American

Is this maturity? Or is posturing pulp-fiction? You won't care.

Isn't it the absolute worst thing in the world when a movie begins so strongly it can do nothing but flounder for the rest of its running time. This is perhaps an exaggeration on both counts, as The American's opening is more good then great and its subsequent content more mediocre then terrible, but the point - in some mangled form - stands. But generally The American is one of those films about hit-men that get a little on my nerves. They have no real interest in exploring the world or the mindset of the profession, instead using it for its familiar life and death stakes and to work out slight issues of social awkwardness.

But what Irked me a little more then that is the whole 70's thing. Its the kind of film that is so enamoured with everything 70's cinematic, that it almost forgets to do anything else, and make a film that arrives 30 years out of date. Everything feels almost mindbogglingly familiar, from George Clooney's selectively speaking hitman, to conversations with a priest about morality, to the love interest being a prostitute, to the Italian setting being captured so cinematically. Its the kind of film that old people will like much more then the young, that academics will like more then critics and is so transparent in its attempts to opaque, that one wonders if it hasn't been made in conjunction with a 3000 word term paper. I say this like its some terrible thing, which of course its not. The American is an OK movie. It looks great, Clooney is great and there's an impressive supporting performance from Thekla Reuten as Clooney's rival, and there's a couple of excellently tense scenes.

But one can't escape the sense that every beat is recycled, A movie can only be this quiet and contemplative if its actually being contemplative, and I get the feeling that this film but much more effort to appear that way, and ultimately that makes it hollow. This is going to read like the harshest 6/10 review in the world, but the movie is convinced enough of its own greatness for me to feel fine about that. Ultimately, it's nothing more the OK, and to this film that's almost the worst insult of all.

Rating: 6/10

1 comment:

Tom Clift said...

It's an interesting point you make about the young vs. old audience thing. I LOVED this movie and I'm only 19, but everyone else I know of a similar age thought it was boring as hell.

I agree about all the cliches and recycled ground, but I thought the movie was still really beautiful and surprisingly gripping giving how slowly it was paced.