Today’s Prayer Focus

The American

MPA Rating: R-Rating (MPA) for violence, sexual content and nudity.
Moral Rating: Not Recommended
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults
Genre: Suspense Thriller Drama Adaptation
Length: 1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release: 2010
USA Release: September 1, 2010
DVD: December 28, 2010
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Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring Bruce Altman (Larry), George Clooney (Jack / Edward), Irina Björklund (Ingrid), Lars Hjelm (Hunter #1), Johan Leysen (Pavel), Paolo Bonacelli (Father Benedetto), See all »
Director Anton Corbijn
Producer Focus Features, Greenlit Rights, Smoke House, This Is That Productions, George Clooney, See all »
Distributor Distributor: Focus Features. Trademark logo.Focus Features, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, a division of NBCUniversal/Comcast

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Academy Award winner George Clooney stars in the title role of this suspense thriller, filmed on location in Italy. Alone among assassins, Jack (played by Mr. Clooney) is a master craftsman. When a job in Sweden ends more harshly than expected for this American abroad, he vows to his contact Larry (Bruce Altman) that his next assignment will be his last. Jack reports to the Italian countryside, where he holes up in a small town and relishes being away from death for a spell. The assignment, as specified by a Belgian woman, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten of “In Bruges”), is in the offing as a weapon is constructed. Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship of local priest Father Benedetto (Italian stage and screen veteran Paolo Bonacelli) and pursues romance with local woman Clara (Italian leading lady Violante Placido). But by stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.”

This film is an adaptation of A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Heavy (2 f-words) / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments


Neutral—So… to dismiss this film on its various nude shots and one painfully long sex scene would be too easy. There’s nothing artful nor necessary in the aforementioned, but they are there. I’ve grown accustomed to staring at the celing during such scenes (cf Phil 4). Sigh. Why oh why bother filmmakers? I can’t wait to revolutionize Hollywood—turn the blasted industry upside down on its friggin' face. That having been said, “The American” is nothing I would have chosen to see. My bud wanted to give it a gander; I fell asleep for a minute or two 'cause I was up late the night before, and it didn’t help that this movie moves along veeerrrrryyyy casually, and this has turned into a mega run-on sentence; lions and tigers and bears OH MY!

In all seriousness, leave the kiddies out. Obviously you wanna farm Tommy and Susie out on account of the preceding charges, but also on the basis of the film’s intended audience: OLD PEOPLE. That’s right. Adults, and I don’t mean kids born before Sept 4, 1989. I mean your kids of the 70’s and before. Even they won’t likely make it through this without nodding off.

Personally I like the pacing; it’s artistic and it works in this movie. It sorta underscores a silent tension that starts from the first scene and doesn’t let up 'til the credits roll, but then again I’m a liberal artsy fartsy movie geek. You may think “The Expendables” is deeper than the two-pence wisdom dispensed on the backs of Captain Crunch boxes, or you may think the choppy, skull-crushing speed and shaky camerawork of (most) action movies these days is the golden ticket to fun and adventure. You may think. If that is INDEED you, I can’t help ya on this, other than to recommend avoidance.

“The American” goes for very placid development. Long shots. None of this migraine-inducing, can’t-see-a-darn-thing, split-second snippets. No sir. You get to take in everything in its entirety. No rush.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Mega Tron, age 24 (USA)
Neutral—First of all, there is no way to recommend this movie with regards to Christian Values = what we are to put before our eyes. The reason being is the sexual content. It’s very graphic, and it’s very Euro. In other words, it’s very open—3 sustained topless scenes, and one very graphic sexual encounter that is quite pornographic.

So, having told you that, I’ve now done my duty to any Christian by giving you a fair warning. And I’ll tell you that I liked the movie. It’s clever, it has a lot of suspense, it’s sort of a film noir Italian style, with Clooney being a burned out weapons provider who is on his last legs, with his conscience crushing him—sort of like the role he played in “Up In The Air.” The movie has a very gentle pace, is void of humor in favor of a sustained stress, and the beautifully shot lingering scenes in this unique movie will offend any American viewer who is use to chop edits, short scenes, and little else.

However, this is perhaps Clooney’s best film role. He is in every scene, and you never get tired of him, and he uses a less-is-more acting style that works perfectly in this film, as he obvously understands the role perfectly. His acting in this one is all about eyes and looks and focused contemplations and being under pressure. The co-stars, are a couple of beautiful Italian women, an old priest, and the older person who has assigned Clooney this particular “job”—which is very simple. He’s to deliver a specialty weapon that he’s constructed to another hit man for a future job, and this hitman happens to be a woman.

There is quite a bit of violence in this movie, starting from the first scene, but it’s not excessive, and there is the beautiful use of Italian country side shots throughout this movie that connect the scenes. I’m sure that in the world of Italian cinema the nudity in this movie would be considered average or even mild, but as we are not used to seeing full frontal nudity (women) here in the US, it’s a bit shocking unexpected, actually. It’s a shame that there is not an edited version of this movie that just cuts out a couple of the nude scenes, as they are really not necessary regarding the story. They are in the movie to sell you the women, especially Clooney’s hooker girl who is a stunningly beautiful girl, who looks a bit like Sarah McLachlan. Too bad there is not a nudity filter you can engage that just eliminates the stuff, coz this movie is one of Clooney’s 3 best, and without the nudity, you are looking at a PG-13/R perhaps.

However, I just can’t recommend it, as it’s just too sexually graphic and certainly very secular in moral ideals, as well as obviously completely secular regarding the simple story line. However, it does not attempt to glorify or justify the point of view of the movie or the storyline, and the movie actually does try to bind the story with an eventual sort of side ways, left-handed redemption of Clooney, as it continues to tell its tale.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Larry, age 49 (USA)
Negative—Don’t waste your money on this movie. I wanted to fall asleep it moved so slow. There was really no point to the movie and the nudity was really unnecessary. I wanted this to be a good movie for Mr Clooney but I don’t see what he saw in this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Lloyd, age 53 (USA)
Negative—I see a lot of films. This is an art house presentation. I have never much liked art house movies. They are often pretentious. It is a pointless film. I imagine that it is likely correct that hitmen frequent prostitutes. I, also, imagine that it is not absolutely unheard of for Roman Catholic priests to have a child. But why make a movie about it? There is nothing in this story that is Christian. There is no reason for the character, who is the centre of this film, to have a film made about him. Forget the immorality, he is simply boring. It is not fit for your children to go to. But as against that, it is so slow and so boring and the sex and nudity are so connected with unsympathetic characters that it is not as corrupting as, for instance, Anne Hathaway’s disgusting performance in “Love and Other Drugs”.

The film is also episodic and the loose ends are not tied up at the end. I think that it is a failure, even in its own terms. It is a vanity piece for Mr. Clooney. Christians should just ignore this movie. It will send most viewers to sleep. There is no reason to attack it to make it interesting. The settings are pretty, but there is little variety.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Blue, age 52 (Australia)
Negative—The movie “The American” disappointed me greatly. It lacked a meaningful plot and was somewhat slow moving at times. In my opinion, the nudity was completely unnecessary, and related to George Clooney’s character having sex (on several occasions) with a prostitute. In general, the language wasn’t too graphic—the “f-word” uttered a couple of times—but other than that, I don’t recall any other curse words. I held out hope for a shred of a moral message because one of the supporting characters introduced early in the film was a Catholic priest, but other than a little talk about forgiveness, there really wasn’t a religious message. The priest’s secret—revealed about midway through the film—seemed more of an attack on religion than an opportunity for Clooney to “redeem” himself.

In short, the film isn’t worth the price of admission and the moral rating should be of concern to us Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Mark, age 44 (USA)
Negative—As we exited the theater, the couple behind me echoed my sentiments that this movie stinks. It is slow, dark, and there is never a clear definition of what the lead character does; we find out that he makes weapons and he apparently is a hit-man for some organization. The place where he takes up residence may be authentic Italian village, but it is confusing in how it lays out and where he lives with respect to anywhere he goes. There is some profanity and considerable violence (at least 6 murders), but the most offensive aspect is the nudity (at least 4 separate scenes). I had planned to go to this movie with my 19 year old nephew; I am glad he was unable to go.

There is nothing redeeming about this movie. There is not the action of a Bourne movie nor is there a clear delineation of good guy vs bad guy as in a movie like “Sniper.” This movie is not for anyone—don’t go!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Dennis U, age 56 (USA)
Negative—The pace of the movie was so slow my wife who is a Clooney fan fell asleep. If you removed all of the extended gaps in dialogue and/or action it could be condensed to about 25 minutes. The viewer is left with far more questions than answers regarding the plot which is incredibly thin—hit man meets hooker and decides to settle down—oops. The movie is morally vacant, no good guys or bad guys, just killers killing killers and a few sex scenes. Even the priest which at least supplied a little dialogue was portrayed as having lost his moral compass. The movie employs several worn out cliches: light at the end of a tunnel, several shots of a butterfly that is an endangered species (did I say the assassin was known as Mr. Butterfly) with the butterfly rising at the end so reminiscent of “Forrest Gump”—Robert Zemeckis will probably want a cut. I would not recommend this movie to anyone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
RT, age 47 (USA)
Negative—“The American” is the worse movie I have ever seen! First, it is a porn movie and should be rated as such, not “R”. Full frontal nudity is not “R”. WHO rated this piece of trash??? Second, …you knew the ending half way through the movie. Third, and worst of all the title stereo types “Americans” as cold-blooded assassins, perverts, and arms dealers. This is another piece of trash to add to Clooney’s long list of failures. He should go back to Italy and stare at goats.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Pop Gunn, age 47 (USA)
Negative—What a disappointment. Incredibly boring. Walked out after the 30 minutes. All that happened was Clooney killed 3 people, rode a train, drove a car and put a gun together. From a Christian view the full frontal nudity was unnecessary and offensive as well.
Joe, age 62 (USA)
Negative—I think it was supposed to be “artistic.” It was a bore. I never figured out what it was trying to say, unless it was that life is depressing and laden with betrayal. (Actually, that’s probably exactly what it was trying to say.) Not a shred of true redemption, and without that, what is the point for a Christian viewer? One feels almost sorry for filmmakers who do not see any option but despair…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
J.R., age 42 (USA)
Movie Critics
…if you’re expecting a star-propelled thriller with the usual bob, weave and one-two punch, this isn’t your ticket. … However, if you crave a film that has Clooney digging deeper into his craft, there’s payoff in this constrained drama with measured, if quiet, performances. … [2½/4]
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
…It is so rare to see a film this carefully crafted… a gripping film with the focus of a Japanese drama, an impenetrable character to equal Alain Delon’s in “Le Samourai,” by Jean-Pierre Melville. … [4/4]
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…It’s a sparse story, but peppered with the kind of dialogue that sticks in the brain. …“The American” is best enjoyed as a kind of keening meditation on loneliness and regret. … [3/4]
National Post
…handsomely photographed with asymmetric, art-house panache… if Clooney’s our modern-day Cary Grant, “The American” may be his “To Catch a Thief.”… [2½/4]
Graham Killeen, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
…a pretentious Euro-snore that should occasion a fraud prosecution for any marketer who calls it a thriller… Clooney hardly ever speaks, opting instead to chew gum and look troubled, and we never learn anything about anyone’s motivations. … [1/4]
Kyle Smith, New York Post
…more simmer than suspense… an inexplicable venture… The film is overripe with erotic symbols. … [2/4]
Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe
…What did George Clooney see in this script?… pointless …the ending is downright absurd…
Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—We didn’t check this movie out before going to see it as we should have. It’s very slow, and there are three scenes of nudity/sex in the first forty-five minutes. We got up and left in the middle of it. Can’t recommend it to anyone.
Tammy, age 44 (USA)
Negative—We didnt' make it through the movie either. Very graphic and nudity was beyond what is acceptable. Very offensive. We turned it off half way. Way too slow too.
Katie, age 40 (USA)