The American

Being a professional hit man isn't for the gregarious type. George Clooney (the "Ocean's" franchise and "Up in the Air") is a lone wolf, who practices his profession and ponders the meaning of it all.

The film starts in Sweden. Of course our hero is with a beautiful woman (by the way, all of the women are beautiful in this film, whether they are Clooney's girlfriends, prostitutes, or fellow assassins); they are in the North woods beside a frozen lake when he spots an animal's track. Somehow, this alerts him and before you know it, there are corpses strewn all over the place. He calls his mysterious "boss" and says he wants out. The boss says he has one last job for him (sound familiar?) and he won't even have to pull a trigger.

Off he goes to Italy, where we encounter labyrinthian streets, alleys, sidewalks, stairs, and roads that loop back and forth through the mountains. In my opinion, this is a metaphor for the plot.

We see many leisurely shots of Clooney working out, eating meals, drinking coffee, climbing stairs, walking deserted streets, assembling machinery, making love, chatting with a priest, and considering his future. He is a very nice-looking guy, and they never let us forget it. At least he is NOT scruffy this time.

The photography is commendable, the acting is acceptable and the plot is predictable, but everything is at arm's length: I felt no emotional connection with any of the characters. Clooney's handsome face provides a blank slate onto which we can project anything we want, so maybe I just didn't want anything badly enough...

The butterfly is a nice touch, though.