Friday, 11 January 2013

No. 61 : The American

George Clooney stars in this decent but somewhat predictable thriller.

We open with a bearded George in a log cabin, next to a frozen lake with a beautiful lady. So far so Roger Moore James Bond. A romantic walk in the winter landscape is interrupted when they spot some footprints in the snow, and pretty soon the happy couple are taking fire from a frankly rubbish sniper. George shows he’s not to be messed with when he shoots the shooter before taking out his girlfriend with a shot to the back of the head - guess she shouldn’t have eaten the last croissant!

 After clearing out the rest of the hit squad George gets onto his handler, one of those stereotype softly spoken bad guys who operates out of a cafĂ©. He tells George to head off to a remote village, but showing the kind of caution that has kept him alive George ditches the Boss issued mobile and heads off on his own.

So begins a short round of the fish out of water scenario as the gorgeous one tries to blend in using his ‘photographer’ story as flimsy cover. He’s quickly befriended by a well meaning but flawed priest who sees that George isn’t what he seems. After checking in with the Boss we learn that George is a gun smith and he’s been given a new job of preparing a custom sniper rifle for a female assassin.

All the while George is boffing a lovely prostitute who quickly falls for his silvery charms and starts to see him ‘off the clock’. As the relationship deepens the always nervous George becomes the target of some assassins, none of whom can match our hero’s guile. As the weapon nears completion George begins to plan his exit strategy.

We all know you can never walk away from the bad guy organisation but will the hooker with a heart and his gunship skills see a possible way for him to reach redemption?

I quite enjoyed this film but it’s really nothing new or inventive. Early on you get the sense that George is doomed and you just wonder how he got so old and grey in such a trigger happy organisation. His past isn’t really touched on apart from a ‘Marines’ tattoo and it seems a strange vocation to be drilling bullets for assassins given his skills set.

Part of the problem is George’s trademark look that doesn’t falter throughout the film. He’s certainly not after the ‘chameleon’ tag, with his look in this film indistinguishable to his in ‘Michael Clayton’ ‘Up in the Air’ and, if you draped an untied bow tie around his neck, all of the ‘Ocean’s’ films. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as he clearly plays to his strengths but given he lives in Italy you are left to wonder if they filmed this when a spare couple of weeks came up in his diary.

The twists were seen a mile off and when you hear that the assassin’s target is a mystery and you see George making her bullets it’s not hard to put two and two together. The film was filled out with a ropey priest with a sex scandal past - is there any other kind?! The romance also didn’t ring true at all with the hooker at first refusing to kiss, but once George gives her a good seeing to, she’s ready to run away with him five minutes later.

The locations were pretty good but somewhat restricted to a small town which again gives the air of a tight production with little scope. George is as reliable as ever and his girl friend certainly brightens up the screen. The lady assassin didn’t convince as a ruthless killer and she even looked a bit ham-fisted when she was ‘expertly’ handling her weaponry. The closing scenes play out pretty much as you’d expect and although somewhat unsatisfying there was enough to keep my interest to the end - mainly to see if I’d guessed right - I had!

Best Bit : George spends his hard earned ‘relaxing’. 68%

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