The American

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The American Movie Poster Image
Taut, mature drama examines the life of a lone assassin.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 year old Written bygerbowski November 30, 2012

Brooding, suspenseful romantic drama, not an action movie

"The American" is not an action thriller, so don't except to get one out of it. Instead it is more of an indy style suspenseful, romantic, drama... Continue reading
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 fronta... Continue reading
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 wa... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjb223 March 13, 2012

NOT FOR MAINSTREAM AUDIENCES

This film feels like such a boring waste of time, this movie is so boring and silent it will make you want to fall asleep in it's first 30 Minutes. It is w... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love thrills and action

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