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Weapon of choice

THE AMERICAN


In Anton Corbijn’s second film, we see an assassin (played by Clooney) hired to assemble a rifle using various garage parts and a vehicle’s driveshaft.  He meticulously constructs a rifle intended to be used by a different killer, but from the opening scene George Clooney is targeted presumably because he is one himself.

He likes this kind of work. His friends get killed, but at least life is brought down to its essentials: Survive. Build weapons. Make money. Travel the world surreptitiously. Avoid getting killed.

Later he settles into a small Italian village, where he drinks americanos and wears designer clothes. From the outside it looks like he’s just living the lifestyle of a Georgio Armani model. Or the lifestlye I imagine George Clooney the actor routinely enjoys.

But then he goes back to his little hole where he sleeps and builds guns.

I think I understand why Corbijn chose such a minimal style to tell the story. Just as guns have no extraneous pieces, and they must all fit together for the gun to work, so does Corbijn believe the same can be applied for a movie. No scene is extraneous. Every moment is jointed to the others, and if one scene is removed the others would fall apart and make no sense.

However, the style only makes it seem that way. Corbijn has not created that movie here. The attention to minimalism certainly makes it look like it’s a solid, well contained and painstakingly scripted film. But it all falls apart because there is one crucial component missing from the final scene.

Logic.

It involves the gun’s use. Essentially, Clooney is targeted by the woman he’s made the gun for, with his own weapon he’s built. There’s of course enough irony here to potentially mask a bigger problem: that she even uses the gun against him in the first place. It doesn’t end well for her, that much I can say. But the previous sequences build the tension between them, since she misses a chance to kill him in a cafe. He knows she’s targeted him, and she knows that he knows, so why use his gun?

Or at least, why not test it before using it?

And with those questions, this meticulous house of cards all falls apart.

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