Anton Corbijn is a world renowned photographer and music video director who made his first foray into feature filmmaking with the exceptional biopic Control, which follows the life of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division. His follow up, a purely fictional narrative based on a novel of the same name, is The American, starring George Clooney.
The American follows a spy/assassin, Jack (played by Clooney) who is on the run from the mysterious "Swede's". He has a talent for pretty much everything, but his main game seems to be guns. A man who is, assumedly, his boss, tucks him away in a small Italian town to hide him from the Swede's, but gives him the task of building a very particular snipers rifle for a fellow assassin. While spending time in this nowhere village, Jack comes into contact with some of its inhabitants, and begins to break his rule of not getting close to anyone.
Corbijn directs a solid piece of work, extremely quiet and meditational. This is NOT Jason Bourne. If Terrence Malick ever made a spy film, The American would be it. Corbijn follows the emotions which pour over Jack's face during various points of interest in the film, and much of the action (or inaction, as it may be) is fairly subtle, as opposed to being given the modern treatment (quick cuts, lots of close ups, etc.). Clooney brings to life a carefully calculated man who is slowly unravelling in his old age.
While the film is adequate, one would most likely go into it expecting something more dynamic, and that, I think, is its shortcoming. It defies expectation, but not in a particularly good way. The marketing just didn't hit the mark. I enjoyed it, as much as I could, I suppose, but its hard when you go in expecting apple's and you get pecan's. It's not Corbijn's fault, by any means, it the studio's for mis-marketing, so I can't really blame him, or Clooney, who, like I said, did a fantastic job with the character he has to play. Overall, I would suggest the film, with the caveat of making sure people understand what it is BEFORE they watch it.