The American



Taut, mature drama examines the life of a lone assassin.
  • Review Date: August 24, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

According to the movie, the life of an assassin is lonely and filled with extended periods of solitary anxiety and a few brief moments of danger. The nature of the job precludes personal connections, and they always seem to be looking over their shoulder.

Positive role models

The main character is clearly a professional and master of his craft, but the work is taking a toll, and his guard seems to be slipping. He makes the job seem soul-killing rather than glamorous, so it’s no surprise when he says he wants to get out.


Several intense gunfights. The action scenes come up suddenly and end quickly, with enemies dispatched efficiently and without remorse. A few scenes show bloody bodies, including one dying assassin whose body has been mangled by an explosive.


Plenty of nudity, including extended, full-frontal shots of a female prostitute and a brief glimpse of a man’s naked butt. One sex scene is particularly long and explicit, with lots of thrusting, writhing, a suggestion of oral sex, and a woman who appears to climax.


Not a lot of swearing. A couple of uses of "f--k," and one conversation has several references to “bastards.”


A few European automotive brands are mentioned/visible, including a Fiat car and a Vespa scooter.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some scenes show people drinking wine at dinner, and few feature harder liquor, though nobody appears to be drunk. A few people smoke cigarettes, including a half-naked woman who lights up after sex.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this slow-paced, suspenseful drama focuses on an assassin for hire (played by George Clooney), but it's neither an action film nor a thriller. It has some intense gunfights, but the real "action" is watching the quiet life of a lonely mercenary who longs for human connection but is always looking over his shoulder in fear. A few scenes include smoking and drinking, and there's a good deal of nudity (including full-frontal female) and some explicit sex. Teens expecting a violent spy film might be disappointed (and even bored), but more mature viewers may appreciate this intimate look at a solitary life spent on the run.

What's the story?

Edward (George Clooney) is a firearm craftsman and assassin who has grown weary of his life. The lone wolf longs to be part of a pack. When hitmen come after him in Sweden, shattering his idyll and leaving his lover dead by his own hands, he decamps to rural Italy, where he befriends a priest and a prostitute. Soon, another assignment comes in: Will it be his last?

Is it any good?


Anyone expecting a Bourne-like thrill-a-minute experience will be suprised and perplexed by THE AMERICAN. Though suspenseful, it proceeds at a mindful, brooding, and, in some instances, glacial pace. Watch Clooney working alone in his room, drinking alone at a bar, standing alone on a riverbank. (You get the picture.)

Therein lies director Anton Corbijn's genius. Viewers don't just see Edward's isolation and increasing despair -- they feel it by the second. His responses and decisions, then, make perfect sense within his very palpable existence. Clooney once again turns in fine work, but sometimes his superstar George Clooney-ness overwhelms. (It doesn't help that the film is set in Italy, where everyone who has ever read a tabloid knows that Clooney has a villa and lives part-time.) Not everything makes sense at first watching, but it pays to get to know The American.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the media typically portrays assassins and spies. How is this movie different? Which seems more realistic?

  • Who do you think this movie is intended to appeal to? Is it successful?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 1, 2010
DVD release date:December 28, 2010
Cast:George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido
Director:Anton Corbijn
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, sexual content and nudity

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bySarah F September 19, 2010
This movie is terrible and completely inappropriate for all ages. The sex scene is extensive and graphic. There is also a lot of nudity! There is full frontal female nudity and a males butt. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. Besides all the nudity the story line is terrible. It is boring and you can't wait for it to end. I should have just walked out.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent of a 5 year old Written bywolfdad57 September 6, 2010
movie was an excellent example of the lonliness of an assasin. clooney was at his best. i even jumped a couple otimes.. i give the show a 9...
Teen, 17 years old Written byRustyShackleford June 19, 2014

Very gripping story of paranoia and loneliness.

In a career highlight performance for George Clooney, he plays an assassin hired to build a weapon for one last job. Clooney embodies someone who desperately wants a connection, but can't because of his chosen career. He visits prostitutes, not for the sex but for the brief human connection they allow him. He eventually starts a relationship with one of the prostitutes, which grants him relieve from the constant paranoia and looking over his shoulder. There are long stretches of silence, with the camera following Clooney through his solitary life. These are the key scenes in the movie. They make all of the human interactions the american has, whether it's with the priest, who wants to help him, or his favourite prostitute, all the sweeter. You wish that the scenes could go on forever, but you know they have to end, and you share in George's sorrow. If you don't go into this movie expecting a white knuckle action thriller, you will be disappointed, but if you allow yourself to sympathize with the lead character, you will experience a great thriller that relies on mood and atmosphere, rather than constant chases and gunfire.


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