A friend, DONNIE BLACK, phoned me from Brooklyn to tell me that “The American” was very European. That meant that it was going to leave a lot to the imagination of the viewer. There would be loose ends and long periods without any dialogue between the characters.
My friend was correct. “The American” is a very moody piece of filmmaking. An American made film would be much more direct, have faster pacing and would tie up all the loose ends by the final scene.
None of the things I have mentioned mean this is not a good movie, I am just warning you that you have to be patient and attentive to keep up with the subtle approach this story uses to reveal itself.
The problem with “The American” is, George Clooney is playing a character we have seen many times – the burned out professional spy or criminal – we never quite know which he is. The beauty of the Italian mountains and the ugliness of the treachery and violence of the characters, makes for a fine contrast, but it is not enough to make this movie special.
It is a well made film, a nice film, but it does nothing special to make itself special.