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MOVIE REVIEW: The American

If you like watching George Clooney watch glue dry...

The American: Rates a D.
Courtesy photo

You know how people always complain that the trailers are the best parts of the movie? I usually don’t agree with that; although sometimes the trailers can be deceptive.

When Adventureland came out a few years ago, I enjoyed it even though it was nothing like the teen comedy's trailer.

The American is nothing like the movie the trailers bill. The movie is more like watching paint dry. Better yet, it’s like watching the glue on a gun dry. That’s what we get to watch in one scene. George Clooney does push-ups, drinks coffee, makes a gun and some ammo, and that’s about it.

Sure, we get to see some naked Italian girls, which gives it a slight James Bond feel. Although in the opening scene by a fireplace with a naked woman, Bond doesn’t end up shooting the gal in the head.

I thought of Steve McQueen at one point, because of Clooney’s love of butterflies (Papillon), and his haircut. I also thought of other 1970s movies – 3 Days of the Condor, Day of the Jackyl, The Conversation – all slightly slow paced thrillers that were good.

This movie is slow paced, and isn’t that interesting. You can’t even use the defense that it’s a character study. We learn very little about his character, other than he likes butterflies and prostitutes.

This is really just George Clooney playing Michael Clayton, who was really just George Clooney as a lawyer. Isn’t that really what he’s playing in every role?

He’s an assassin that’s holed up in Italy, when things go wrong on his last “assignment.” And of course, the usual clichés pop up. He’s going to retire after “one last job.” And the prostitute he frequents has a heart of gold, and a heart for him. Can you really blame her? He treats her and tips her well, and…well, it’s George Clooney! Shouldn’t she be paying him?

Clooney produced this movie, and I’m not sure why. I can’t imagine anything in the script…wait…there is nothing in the script!

It seems when actors are young, they want to gain wait for roles and do their own stunts. When they get older, they want to produce and direct movies, in which they can play troubled middle-aged people at a crossroads in their life. Close-ups of their face, even if that means showing wrinkles, because they can look perplexed and squint their eyes a lot. Okay, fine. Don’t you still have to keep the audience interested?

We were interested watching Jack Nicholson wrestle with retirement in About Schmidt. We don’t always need him running around saying “Here’s Johnny!” or “You can’t handle the truth!”

There’s nothing in this movie that warrants wasting $12 and two hours of your time.

Some of the side characters are mildly interesting -- A priest that reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock, and his mechanic son; a boss that reminds me of Scott Glenn (if you gave him Keith Richards skin).

The movie also has an interesting car chase. I’m usually one that makes fun of car chases in movies. In this, I wish there were a few more. Maybe take out one of the scenes of Clooney working out (how many movies have done that scene? Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed and Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear immediately come to mind). Take out one of the five scenes of Clooney brooding about this beautiful Italian countryside perhaps.

At one point Clooney says to the priest, “I don’t think God is very interested in me.”

Neither was I.

This movie gets a D.