Synopsis: An assassin hides out in Italy for one last assignment.
Release Date: September 1, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Mystery
The title of this film makes complete sense as the main character is an American in Italy. The rest of it is nothing like its marketing campaign would have you believe. What we do know, from the few clues given, is that Jack (George Clooney) is an assassin and people want him dead. Or is he? His line of work is never directly made clear but we can assume this is the case. Even if the only time he shoots a gun is out of self defense. As for being touted as an action movie, or suspense thriller. That is worthy of a great laugh. This movie has very little action and in my own opinion, I would not call the scenes that are considered the action parts anywhere near action. As for suspense and thrills…none of these either. This movie is actually an attempt at an introspective piece on a character, Jack (George Clooney). But it does not even offer a character that can fulfill this goal. The American is only fascinating because you spend the entire time trying to figure out what you are watching and even if you are in the right theater.
Please excuse me now if I dive too far into a plot summary but it is the only method I see in trying to explain just how this film actually has no visible plot or structure.
Jack has been residing in Sweden, far off the beaten path, with a woman “friend”. When an assassin tries to kill him he flees to Italy, looking for protection from his boss. He ends up in a small town outside the city, Castel Del Monte. Although he is supposed to be in hiding he takes a job to make a weapon for an unknown buyer who is using a beautiful woman, who knows her way around a gun, as the contact. The expectation now is that somehow the action will mount as those who want Jack dead find him in this small remote town. That is the farthest thing from what happens. Instead, Jack builds the gun and we get to watch. He kind of befriends a priest, but their conversations are nothing more than boring musings on what it means to repent or accept the sins of one’s past in order to move forward. Jack has no desire to be forgiven or find solitude in the church so these scenes are irrelevant to the story. The result for the viewer is absolutely no insight into Jack’s thoughts, feelings, motivations, or history. Now back to building the gun. The reason behind it being built is not fully realized. We know it is to kill someone but that is all. The ending provides a twist that could be hinting the initial reason all along but again, never explained. Keeping an item open for interpretation is all well and good but when it is the only thing keeping a film moving, and barely doing that even, answers are needed.
In between the solitude that is Jack’s life of building a gun he finds the time to visit with the town prostitute Clara, the luminous Violante Placido. His interludes with other characters are brief. The main focus always on the detached lifestyle he leads. The problem here is that Jack is not an interesting character with any hint of motivation. There is no character arc, moments of personal reflection, or glimpses into the deeper aspects of his personality. Jack remains throughout the entire film a vapid, one-dimensional character. One could conclude that his lack of personality, disregard for friendly encounters, or rude bluntness is a result of his lifestyle and the need to remain anonymous; but as the main character who has the entire film focused on him alone something more is needed, anything, to make him interesting. The only thing interesting about Jack is how he can date a prostitute without having a problem with her line of work. Then again, he kills people for a living so who is he to judge. I guess we found one quality about Jack the film demonstrates. Still not enough to make this movie make sense, or worth watching.
The Italian countryside is beautiful, and cinematographer Martin Ruhe makes sure to illustrate the landscape for the viewer. He also utilizes specific camera angles and set-ups to make us very aware this is a film about one man who is very much alone.
On Jack’s initial drive from Rome to Castel Del Monte the camera becomes Jack’s eyes. As he drives through a large tunnel we see the vast emptiness of the area, the darkness, and the fake glow of yellow from the reflectors on the ground. All is silent and motionless. Jack is alone, staring into nothingness, as he journeys to a place he has no connection with. It is a powerful scene as the emptiness of Jack’s life is projected back to the viewer. Once inside the town the camera plays with the claustrophobic nature of the cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, and maze-like structure of the town itself. The camera creeps around corners, following Jack or other characters, as they make their way in the dark. It very much follows without reacting to movement, sound, or distractions. When outside of the city a drastic change is made with the size of the shots presented. Aerial views, like the God’s view from the sky, are ever present. They show the remoteness of the land, the beauty it holds, and also the vast area of uninhabited space. From a small town where buildings are practically built on top of each other and privacy appears to be impossible to an open space where an air of freedom beckons there is a constant examination of the scope of John’s life, and future, through the cinematography. Even when he is outside the town the camera does not forget completely his solitude; close-ups are presented in conjunction with the (extreme) wide shots. Jack cannot escape himself, as the final close-up of the film demonstrates, when all we have is the close-up and the freeing experience of the countryside is lost.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Anton CorbjinJill GreenGrant Heslov
- Producer(s): Ann WingateRowan Joffe
- Screenwriter(s): George Clooney (Jack)Violante Placido (Clara)Thekla Reuten (Mathilde)
- Story: Paolo Bonacelli (Father Benedetto)
- Cast: Andrew HumleMartin RuheMark Digby
- Cinematographer: Herbert Gronemeyer
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA