The American

Before George Clooney had the clout he enjoys today, he joined Nicole Kidman in a flag-waving, America-is-the-greatest action thriller called The Peacemaker.

When he got the power to pick and choose his projects, his politics as a vocal critic of US foreign policy came to the fore, so in watching him play an American assassin on assignment, you can't help but watch for a political stance.

On reflection, I think he might simply have liked the script – it's hard to imagine him being drawn to a movie about a professional killer unless there was something new in it. There's a definite arc in the character of Jack (Clooney), who's sent to a small picturesque Italian town to lie low after a job in Sweden goes wrong and breaks his heart.

Jack keeps his head down as his next job comes through – one Jack's determined is his last – construction of a specialist weapon for a mysterious, attractive European woman.

He quietly befriends the local priest and slowly falls for a hooker in town he sees regularly, trying not to keep such a tight reign on his heart now he's getting out, but (in the film's only real flaw), you can see a mile off that his chic European client's assignment is to silence him before he can leave the life.

In the end there seems little point but the story – or perhaps there is something there, about how America has forgotten to extend the hand of friendship and love around the world and is paying the price with its soul.

Apart from the occasional burst of violence it's a slow, quiet, slightly dour film that only really breaks loose from bleakness when it's caressing the Italian countryside or the winsome curves of the leading lady.

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