Massachusetts Daily Collegian

More than just an action flick

By Ian Winship

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MCT, Giles Keyte


The late-summer release “The American” was not one for the masses. With big-name actor George Clooney and trailers that made the movie seem like an action flick, this movie had commercial potential. It turns out this potential was used in unanticipated fashion. It ended up being a compelling low-key thriller about a man trying to retire from his lifelong work as an assassin.

The most challenging aspect of this movie is that the audience is given very little information to work with. You are abruptly thrown into the plot, not knowing how our main character got there or where he is going. You can never really be sure of the main character’s real name as he goes by Jack, Edward and Mr. Butterfly at different points in the story. This automatically adds a mysterious element to Clooney’s character.

It is also hard to determine why Jack is doing what he is doing in the first place. You don’t know why he is killing people-or for that matter why they are trying to kill him. Another thing some audiences may find unsettling is the partial lack of sound. There were many silent moments, which some may find pointless. These parts don’t really fit in to this day and age of movies where the commercially-successful ones are full of explosions, laughs and loud soundtracks.

While there is some music, it is not fully present and it certainly doesn’t lead the film. There are quite a few scenes where the only audible language that is being used by the characters is body language. While this may be interesting to some, it may not hold the attention of everyone in the theater. All that being said this was an interesting film.

“The American” did surprisingly well at the box office. It was No. 1 during the weekend of its release and now it is third, two weeks afterwards. Making just over $28 million in two weeks, it seems that a good amount of people did decide to go see this intriguing movie. A lot of people may have been drawn in by the flashy style of the advertisements for this movie which unfortunately painted a different picture about it but hopefully some were thoughtful enough to enjoy this strange and risky piece of film.

This movie told the thoughtful story of a man who had a very difficult job and who was dwelling on his past actions. We find ourselves in the life of Jack/Edward/Mr. Butterfly on his last job in a small town in Italy. He is hired to make a specialized machine gun/ sniper rifle hybrid for another assassin to use on their target. While the process he uses in making this gun is interesting and creative, it takes pretty much the entire movie to complete and then leads to a somewhat unexpected ending.

There is no real end to this story. Just as suddenly as we find ourselves in it we are out of the plot. The film is not for the easily distracted. But, if you want to sit down and watch an interestingly shot film about a topic that is seldom viewed with any sort of realistic ideas, then go see this movie.

Ian Winship can be reached at [email protected]

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