A beautiful disappointment

Despite great scenery Clooney film is dull

Anton Corbijn's "The American" is the kind of thriller where you don't know who to trust. You don't know who's good and who's bad or what side is good and what side is bad. It increases the tension throughout. Unfortunately the tension goes to waste.
George Clooney plays Jack, who is an assassin. He's always on the move and usually alone. After a job in Sweden doesn't have a very good end he goes to a small village in the Italian countryside. While he's there he takes up another job, to supply a weapon to another assassin. He also befriends a local woman, Clara (Violante Placido). It seems like he is in no danger but of course that is never the case in these kinds of movies.
As far as dialogue goes there wasn't much. "The American" was more visual storytelling. Most scenes consisted of Jack walking through the empty streets of the village or driving from one place to another in silence, maybe saying "buongiorno" to some pedestrian.
Occasionally there were mini conversations he would have with a local priest, or Clara, or his boss, and when there was interaction the film was good. But after a while, seeing Jack turn that same street corner or showing him sitting in his room over and over, it got tedious.
Also, because of the lack of dialogue, character development suffered big time. Clooney's character was one-dimensional. You don't know where he came from, or his background. Sure, the opening scene brought us into the situation but we don't get to know Jack. Maybe that was Corbijn's intent but we didn't care what happened to him, or any of the other characters for that matter.
Clooney gave one of his dullest performances by far. Not that he really brings anything new to his other parts, but in this movie he wasn't given much to do but stare out in the distance and keep the constant look of confusion on his face. He didn't seem all that into it.
On a high note the photography was stunning. The scenes of the golden hills of the Italian countryside were absolutely beautiful. And being a still photographer himself, Corbijn, and cinematographer Martin Ruhe captured the little details of the landscapes wonderfully.
"The American" is based on Martin Booth's 1990 novel a 1990 novel "A Very Private Gentlemen." Having not read the book, I could see how this premise and style would work in written form, it didn't translate well onto the big screen.
"The American" is playing at AMC Pacific Place 11 downtown, Landmark Neptune Theatre in the U-District and Majestic Bay Theatres in Ballard.[[In-content Ad]]