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The American is So Good

Published August 31, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Focus Features
The American is so good, I almost want to read the book it’s based on. I don’t know though, because what’s great about the movie is all the visual information. Will it be the same if I just read descriptions of it? Maybe it’ll be better because they’ll have entire chapters devoted to looks and glances from the movie. That’s a discussion for another time, but this is about the movie.

Review: The American


The movie is all visual cues. It’s dialogue free scenes showing The American’s tactics. It plays with visual cues we’re used to. We’re used to a setup where someone appears in a certain part of the frame. Not this time.

The American notices his surroundings and springs into action. He handles his business. There’s no graceful showing off, but no B.S. either. These are just stone cold professionals. Everything they do has a purpose, even if it’s at risk to themselves. They’re so efficient, even when they’re improvising.

It manages to make you suspicious and pay attention to all the details in the scene. The filmmakers earn our trust so that whatever surprises they spring on us are awesome. It’s got to be the best sniper movie since Day of the Jackal. I can’t think of another movie with better “assembling a weapon” scenes.


The American The American


The cinematography is really beautiful, creating art out of simple techniques like a silhouette driving through a tunnel. All of the shots show without telling. It’s handheld, but steady, so it can be done. I don’t even usually notice cinematography, but it’s the heart of this movie.

Aside from Clooney, all the actors are new faces to traditional audiences, and they’re interesting people to watch. There are some really sexy scenes too. They’re revealing without coming across as graphic. Of course, Clooney gets to play with the leading lady.

It’s just a grown-up movie. You know what’s going on. You have to follow but it’s all there. It’s rewarding, it’s fulfilling and it’s so sparse, they achieve this all without spectacle, just pure skill.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Focus Features
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