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The American (2010)

tomatometer

66

Average Rating: 6.5/10
Reviews Counted: 210
Fresh: 138 | Rotten: 72

As beautifully shot as it is emotionally restrained, The American is an unusually divisive spy thriller -- and one that rests on an unusually subdued performance from George Clooney.

66

Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 44
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 15

As beautifully shot as it is emotionally restrained, The American is an unusually divisive spy thriller -- and one that rests on an unusually subdued performance from George Clooney.

audience

38

liked it
Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 65,400

My Rating

Movie Info

Story: Academy Award winner George Clooney stars in the title role of this suspense thriller. As an assassin, Jack is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, Jack retreats to the Italian countryside. He relishes being away from death for a spell as he holes up in a small medieval town. While there, Jack takes an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). Savoring the

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Rowan Joffe

Dec 28, 2010

$35.6M

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December 28, 2010:
RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Resident Evil and The American
Maybe it's because it's the end of the year, and the assumption is that most of the gift-giving is...
September 7, 2010:
Box Office Guru Wrapup: The American Takes the Top Spot
This weekend, the summer movie season closed quietly as the top ten slumped to its worst performance...

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All Critics (210) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (138) | Rotten (72) | DVD (1)

At its best, the film's silence and unrevealing mood of observation remind you of 'The Passenger' or Paulo Sorrentino's 'Consequences of Love'...

November 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This movie is so serious about its pretensions that none of it makes any sense.

September 21, 2010 | Comments (4)
Film.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While cinema-lovers can cheer a director willing to buck the fashion for sensory overload, The American can't rightly be called a success.

September 3, 2010 | Comments (7)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The good news, though, is that eventually The American does get to where it wants to be, and becomes a rather improbably but genuinely moving story.

September 3, 2010 Full Review Source: MSN Movies | Comments (7)
MSN Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If you're expecting a star-propelled thriller with the usual bob, weave and one-two punch, this isn't your ticket.

September 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Denver Post | Comments (6)
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Early on, the priest explains to Jack, 'You have the hands of a craftsman, not an artist.' The American is the product of such hands as well: lovely in execution, if somewhat wanting in inspiration.

September 3, 2010 Full Review Source: The Atlantic | Comments (3)
The Atlantic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Outstanding cinematography and score and excellent acting make for a remarkable movie. The American is a must-see.

November 11, 2013 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

That the film through these slow, poetic paces remains engrossing, engaging, and ultimately oddly affecting is a testament to Clooney's terrific performance.

October 13, 2013 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

George Clooney delivers a strong but subdued performance in this slow-paced character study.

January 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

The filmmakers seem to have forgotten that it takes more than a brooding assassin to engage the audience for the full runtime of the film. Moreover, if that character isn't involved in an interesting narrative, they'll have even less reason to care.

September 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Examiner.com
Examiner.com

It may not be the fast-paced assassin thriller you might expect, but it benefits more from that than anything else.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

When the story is threadbare and the picture lacks dynamism, all that's left is the character study but Corbijn's technique frustrates any attempt to truly get under Jack's skin. Consequently The American is often as non-descript as its title.

June 30, 2011 Full Review Source: The Ooh Tray
The Ooh Tray

An arty Euro thriller that favours style over excitement and character over plot.

April 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

suggests that we've lost everything but our desire to be better--and in the end, it lets us decide whether that's good enough.

March 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

If you want to see a carefully paced, well-designed and beautifully shot suspense-thriller that hits all of its marks, then you could do far worse than The American.

February 1, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture | Comment (1)
What Culture

... for audiences that prefer to be absorbed by films rather than exhausted by them, The American offers a rare experience.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

The camera loves Clooney, of course, but it also loves watching him building a custom rifle in his shop...

January 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Playback:stl
Playback:stl

For all of its precise direction and beautiful imagery, it's a classic genre picture, and a damn good one at that...

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Listless Euro-ennui pastiche

December 6, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

While it feels like nothing much is happening, there's a lot going on under the surface, and a real sense of growing suspense.

December 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

There's a lot to value, even if it drinks a little too deeply from the well of stock Euro-assassin-movie characters and situations.

November 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Sparse, tense, beautiful... and strangely empty. The dialogue, plot and characterisation are nowhere near as deep or profound as the filmmakers seem to think they are.

November 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Triple J
Triple J

A muted thriller, weighed a little too obviously with existential angst. Still, sexy and tense, with a brave, bare performance from Clooney.

November 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Partway between icy existentialism and retro romantic thriller, The American wants to have its cake and eat it.

November 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

It purrs evenly, like the engine of a luxury automobile, with a cool, sleek satisfaction at how stylish it is. That said, it is pretty stylish...

November 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

As with watching the equally compact, detached Cary Grant, it's a great pleasure just to see the stone-faced Clooney going about his work exuding mystery and inner torment...

November 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian
Guardian

Audience Reviews for The American

the more ive thought about this film, the more ive fallen in love with it. the american is a very non american film. in fact, if you dont have a lot of exposure to french or italian films, or if you do but you dont care for them much, you wont like this film either. the film really feels like an effective blend of antonioni and melville. clooney proves once again why he is one of our best actors, and the film has a wonderfully patient and cerebral tone and pace. the limited dialogue and character development drives me nuts in most american films, but it is a staple for european style thrillers, and with this stylized approach it works well. i cant say enough about how well this film was shot, and although some might not find the pacing effective it worked for me because of the classics of this mold that it reminded me of that i enjoy so much. there were a few moments where just a little more dialogue would have improved certain scenes and the film was not without a few of the cliches of this genre, but overall it stands as a personal favorite of mine.
June 26, 2014
sanjurosamurai
danny d

Super Reviewer

A weapon smith specializing in custom rifles for assassination purposes falls for a beautiful Italian prostitute despite his extreme trust issues. The American is very much a thriller from the old school; it has a very 70s, continental vibe that reminded me a little of The Day Of The Jackal as the low key, almost laid back approach is a million miles away from the wobbly-cam and SFX orientated efforts of the ADHD generation. It is far more reliant on mood and characterisation and as such finds a perfect central performance from the ever reliable Clooney who can always be trusted to invest his time in projects of quality. His tentative relationship with Violante Placido side steps the usual saccharine of contrived cinematic romances and the story feels measured and honest without ever resorting to unnecessary visual spectacle. It looks fantastic and the air of subtlety and sophistication that permeates the entire film gives it a maturity so often lacking in modern cinema. Like Clooney himself, The American is intelligent, stylish and an all round class act.
July 3, 2013
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Going in, I had heard this was a boring film; on the contrary, it's an understated and authentic story (with a cliche ending, but what can you do?) about the untenable life of an assassin. I think the marketing department really got it wrong with this poster, and a lot of people were looking for more action as a result, but what the complainers missed was a strong performance by George Clooney (complemented by actors unknown in North America) and a minimalist approach to music and dialogue that allowed the camera to do the talking. I really enjoyed this one.
February 9, 2013
danperry17

Super Reviewer

A tightly wound, perhaps overly aesthetic film that keeps one firmly in its grasp for the entire duration. 'The American' is a character study of a man whose career choice has forced him into an emotional vacuum; he trusts no-one and is forever looking over his shoulder. It's a beautifully shot film, the camera capturing the best of rural Italy and Sweden, the slow pacing of the film adding to the sense of atmosphere. Not a lot happens in the film, but it is strangely engrossing, chiefly because of the ambiguity of it all. One doesn't exactly know the predicament of Clooney, someone is after him, but who? The viewer has confidence in the assassin's dexterity in combat and his awareness of his surroundings, but we also suspect his assailants are just as sharp.

All performances were fine, but something that struck me about the film was that the cast is too attractive and too stylish considering the type of people they are playing. Does George Clooney look right for the role? I'm not sure. Is Thekla Reuten right for her role as a ruthless assassin? I don't think so, she's just too attractive. A slight credibility issue perhaps, but not a particularly pressing one; its healthy supply of sexy, scantily clad European women could certainly be seen as a merit of the film.
August 9, 2012
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

    1. Ingrid: Why would you have a gun?
    2. Jack: Who were the Swedes?
    3. Pavel: I've made arrangements to leave town while I sort this thing out.
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
    1. Mathilde: Goodbye, Mr. Butterfly.
    – Submitted by Eskimo t (2 years ago)
    1. Pavel: Don't talk to anyone, and above all, don't make any friends, Jack. You used to know that.
    – Submitted by Raymond W (3 years ago)
    1. Clara: You are a good man, but you have a secret.
    – Submitted by Raymond W (3 years ago)
    1. Father Benedetto: A man can be reached if he has God in his heart.
    2. Jack: I don't think God's very interested in me, father.
    – Submitted by Raymond W (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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Foreign Titles

  • The American (Männersachen) (DE)
  • El americano (ES)
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