George Clooney in The American: Looks great. Goes nowhere.

In the mood for a good thriller, my wife Jeanne and I went to see George Clooney’s latest star turn, The American. All I can say is don’t bother. While I
don’t normally write movie reviews, I do write thrillers (
Cutting, The Chill of Night
) and, as a
thriller-writer, I expect a thriller to have a plot. Not necessarily a great plot. Not even a good plot.
But at least
some plot.

The Americandoesn’t. The movie consists of little more than two hours of mindless violence where people run around
shooting each other for no discernible reason. The shootings are mostly
interrupted by scenes of Clooney driving around Italy, sitting in cafes
drinking coffee and removing his shirt and showing off his muscles by doing
pushups and chin-ups.

This movie is not without some redeeming qualities. The scenery in and around the mountainous region of Italy’s Abruzzo is stunning. The cinematography is first rate, maybe even good enough to snag Director of Photography Martin Ruhe an Oscar nomination. But, as Gertrude Stein once said of her
return to her childhood home in Oakland, California, when it comes to a story
line, “there is no there there.”

For me, your typical post-middle-aged heterosexual male, the single most enjoyable thing about The American was the frequency with which a gorgeous young Italian actress named Violante Placido removes her
clothing and runs around in the nude. If you feel that’s enough to justify
spending twenty bucks or more on a pair of tickets, go for it. Otherwise, as I said before, don’t

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