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McCoy on Movies: "The American" Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: "The American" Movie Review
Maysville's finest is back in theaters this week in the suspense thriller "The American." But is the film worthy of your pledging allegiance to it? Check out our movie critic's thoughts here.

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KEY CAST MEMBERS: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten and Paolo Bonacelli

 

WRITER: Rowan Joffe, adapted from Martin Booth's novel A Very Private Gentleman

 

DIRECTOR: Anton Corbijn

 

WEB SITE: FocusFeatures.com/film/the_american

 

THE PLOT: Adapted from the 1990 novel A Very Private Gentleman, "The American" stars George Clooney in the title role as Jack, a man who... well, let's just call him a man who is very good with his hands who often has to use them to do his job (or save his own skin). In other words, he's an assassin.

 

After having his time in Sweden interrupted in a most harsh manner, Jack travels to Rome where he meets up with his contact Pavel (Johan Leysen) who sets up for him to hole-up in the hilly Italian countryside. While lying low, Jack takes on a new assignment: constructing a specialized rifle for a mysterious new contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). That assignment, of course, is not without its complications, as Jack unexpectedly befriends local priest Father Benedeto (Paolo Bonacelli) and liaisons with Clara (Violante Placido), a beautiful woman of the night who longs for passionate romance. SassyMoma-In-Story-GIF.GIF

 

Once Jack sees Clara for who she truly is, he comes to realize a different existence might be a better way to live. Whether or not he'll be alive to see it, however, remains to be seen.


THE TAKE: To put my thoughts on "The American" into an analogy: If I were given a paint-by-numbers kit that, once I was finished with it, I would have painted an exact replica of the Mona Lisa, is it a work of art or simply a very well done, visually appealing yet uninspired copy of a true work of art? If you feel that the latter is true, you have just summed up how I ultimately felt after watching this film.

 

Let me explain: There is no problem with the acting (which is fine all the way around), the cinematography (which is stellar) or even the film's soundtrack (which effectively sets the mood properly). And having not read the late Mr. Booth's novel, I cannot say for certain that it is the film's source material. No, the problem is that the film, which moves a bit too slowly at times, is extremely... familiar.

 

In talking with my fellow critic friend after the film, I struggled to remember the film that had a character similar to that of Clooney in "The American," a character with a similar take on his job, desire to transcend it and a woman's affect on it. Hours later, I remembered -- "Heat" and on a remotely similar level, "The Professional."

 

OK, let me stop you right now. "Heat," "The Professional" and "The American" are three completely different films, but the archetype of the main character in all is one we have seen countless times before, just tweaked and adjusted ever-so-slightly for each film. And in "The American," the archetype is compelling enough to keep you watching, but the familiarity of his world fails to deliver a completely satisfying experience by the film's end.

 

While the film is essentially a throwback to film days of yore (if the film's theatrical movie poster isn't a tip off, well, it should have been!), it ends up having an old vibe for the wrong reason: A story that no matter how well told, is one we've seen before. While many others may (and likely justifiably so) praise the cast and crew's work, the actual story itself is ultimately a facsimile of a work of art no matter how you cut it.

 

PARTING SHOT: While the film will definitely interest many in vacationing in Italy and having a torrid romance, "The American" is not in the same class as the foreign films it seeks to imitate.

 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

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Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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