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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.