George Clooney is The American

clooneyI have over the years come to appreciate much of what George Clooney does. When he wants to, he can choose some devoutly interesting pictures: the kinds of psychological thrillers and political introspectives that expand the mind for a moment to something beyond the walls of the movie theater, to a big and interconnected world that seems to loom large beyond the control of any ordinary man. Watching him now, it’s hard to believe that he somehow starred in one of the dumbest pictures of all time. Actually, he seems to split a lot of his time between savvy, cool characters and inconceivably dumb characters, some on purpose, some on accident.

Today Focus Features announced that George Clooney will star in “The American”, a film directed by Anton Corbijn (“Control”) and based on the 2005 book “A Very Private Gentleman” by Martin Booth. Clooney plays Jack, a weapons expert and craftsman who breaks away to the Italian countryside so that he can complete one last assignment. Bruce Altman, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli, and Violante Placido co-star. The screenplay is by Rowan Joffe, who has previously written “The Last Resort” and “28 Weeks Later”.

Jack, as it says in the press release, “relishes being away from death for a spell” and enjoys his time in the country, taking up the friendship of a local priest (Bonacelli) and the romance of a woman (Placido). It sounds like the film might have aspects of “Michael Clayton”, if it is to be compared with any of Clooney’s past works, as a thriller involving a man who is past his prime. There is no word on a release date, but in the meantime Clooney still has “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “Men Who Stare at Goats”, and “Up in the Air” all premiering this year.