The American Is Not an Action Flick. That’s Why It’s Great.

The preview, promos and poster for the new George Clooney movie The American are deceptive. They make it look like a Bourne movie, with Clooney in the lead instead of Matt Damon.

In fact, the movie is essentially a remake of last year’s Clooney film Up in the Air. Both films feature a protagonist who is a traveling assassin for hire. (In Up in the Air, the assassinations are metaphorical, since Clooney plays a corporate ax man, but that’s a minor difference. Whether he’s delivering a bullet to the brain or a severance package combined with outplacement counseling, the effect is the same.) In both films, he’s a man without a soul who comes to realize the price he’s paid for the piece of him that’s missing. In both films, the suspense revolves around whether he’ll find that missing piece of himself before it’s too late.

Up in the Air was a comedy. The American is a quiet, brooding, melancholy, contemplative tragedy. Both movies are among the best films to come out in their respective years.

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