The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Johan Leysen, Violante Placido
Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Music by: Herbert Gronemeyer
Written by: Rowan Joffe based on the novel “A very private gentlemen” by Martin Booth
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 28, 2010
"Redemption can come at a price.."
Academy Award® winner George Clooney is The American in this sexy suspense thriller from director Anton Corbijn. After a job ends more violently than expected, Jack (Clooney) retreats to the Italian countryside and accepts one last assignment to construct a deadly weapon for a mysterious contact. But when he pursues a relationship with a beautiful local woman, he may be tempting fate by stepping out of the shadows. Jack soon finds himself in an escalating battle to escape from his secretive past,
The American isn’t your garden variety thriller. I found it to be a sort of expose that examines the psyche of an assassin who has spent much of his adult life living an elusive and dangerous existence. The framework of the story is very basic and closely follows Jack (Clooney), a skilled killer and machinist who makes his living creating/modifying weapons for himself or others to use in his line of “work”. Jack is obviously hardened by his past, but manages to maintain a soft spot that he reserves only for select people, who just happen to women. With treachery afoot after his last assignment Jack’s discontent with “the life” comes to a head. When his contact Pavel gives him his next job (in Italy) he tells Pavel that it will be his last. Jack arrives in Italy but finds himself distracted by reflection. Seeking female companionship he meets Clara, a local prostitute, whose zest for life sparks something in Jack and they have an affair. He also makes the acquaintance of Father Benedetto, a priest, who senses his confliction and attempts to help him see the error of his ways by seeking redemption. Unfortunately redemption doesn’t come easy for a life spent like Jack’s. His troubled past is a constant reminder of the inevitability of his future. His only choice is to endeavor to complete this last assignment and get out. The looming question for Jack is...does anyone ever really get out?
Initially I didn’t know what to make of this film. I guess I envisioned more of a “traditional” film but found this to be a purposeful character study that has sort of a one dimensional narrative. The pacing is slow and deliberate while action/intrigue is kept to a minimum. The air of existential angst is notable as the focus remains on Jack’s struggle to come to grips with living on the precipice of happiness but in the shadow of paranoia and fear. This is where the film excels as George Clooney is definitely in his comfort zone and owns the character. This is a beautifully shot film that uses locations that are as essential to the story as are the characters. The film succeeds because of the total sum of its parts in my opinion. Those expecting more of a typical higher octane (Jason Bourne) thriller probably won’t appreciate The American. I think that I “got it” but this may not be a film for everyone.
The rating is for violence, sexual content and nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The American comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios HE featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
This is an excellent high definition video presentation that offers impressive transparent imagery. The color palette is deliberately subdued and held to primary use of black, grays, whites, browns and blues that give it a cooler emphasis. Colors are rendered well with realistic looking depth and detail. This is a solid, high bitrate encoding that delivers superlative image resolution. Close ups revealed high level detail that allows the pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle variations in the complexions of the cast to be perceivable. The texture on the surfaces of objects was just as defining which gave them visibly apparent structure and tangible quality. Black levels and contrast are excellent and visible detail within dark backgrounds and shadows equally as strong. The video had a pristine quality that appeared to be devoid of video related anomalies and artifacts.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio wasn’t as encompassing as I anticipated but it made up for it with sparkling clarity and detail. Dialogue was impressive in its tonal distinction and transparent blend with the front three channels. Imaging and sound effects reproduction were first rate as the sound field in the front of the room bristled with sonic detail. The surrounds were primarily utilized for spatial atmospheric presence however discernible discrete audio cues were effectively mixed in where appropriate. Low frequency effects came in the form of bass associated with the music score and in support of sound effects that required low bass resonance or tactile impact. Dynamic range was excellent which provided good solidity and weight to the audio in general. I felt that the mix highlighted the strengths of the source material and sounded great.
- (HD) Deleted scenes
- (HD) Journey to redemption: The making of The American – 10 minute featurette
- Feature commentary by director Anton Corbijn
- My Scenes bookmark feature
- Pocket Blu - App for iPOD/iPHONE
- BD-Live enabled
- Digital Copy
The American probably doesn’t conform to the elements that most envision when thinking of a thriller but that doesn’t make it any less of an engaging film. The American succeeds because of the total sum of its parts and features strong performances by the cast headlined by George Clooney. Those expecting more of a typical genre entry (ala Jason Bourne) probably won’t appreciate The American. I think that I “got it” but this may not be a film for everyone. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring superb high definition video quality, clear DTS-HD Master Audio sound, and a limited but worthwhile set of bonus supplements that consists of a behind the scenes featurette, director commentary track and deleted scenes. The American is well worth checking out especially if you enjoy a thoughtful film however I recommend it as a rental prior to purchase.
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