Complete A-Z list

American, The


Stars: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Johan Leysen, Paolo Bonacelli, Irina Björkland, Filippo Timi

Director: Anton Corbijn

A beautifully-set but rather dull drama on the familiar theme of the hit-man who wants out. The stunningly picturesque Italian town of Castel del Monte is a star in its own right, as assassin Jack (Clooney) hides out there while preparing his next assignment.

Rather disappointingly, this proves to be not a killing, but the construction of a custom-made weapon for Mathilde (Reuten), agent for Jack's boss Pavel (Leysen), who inevitably decides to bump Jack off when the task is finished (why can't these poor hit-men ever be allowed to retire?).

While working and waiting, Jack consorts with prostitute Clara (stunning Italian actress Placido). This is all only marginally interesting, and contains many of the clichés of the genre, including a priest (Bonacelli) who tells Jack that "A man can be rich...if he has God in his heart.' Yes, well, clerics probably do say things like that, but it still sounds tired in dramatic terms.

Anyway, falling for Clara (as who wouldn't?), Jack decides to quit the business which, as all aficionados of hit-man movies will know, means that he himself is a hunted man. The brief bursts of gunplay here are welcome, but there's too much brooding and glaring in between. Rowan Joffé's uninspired screenplay eventually corners itself into either choosing an ending that's improbably happy or one that's tried-and-trite.

David Quinlan

Sweden/Italy/Canada 2010. UK Distributor: Universal (Focus). Technicolor.
105 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 21 Nov 2010