The only thing we know for sure about George Clooney's charcter Jack/Edward is that his job is to kill people; for whom and in what capacity is never revealed. The scene is set in a secluded snowy landscape where Jack is spending time with a lover in a chalet. On a walk he quickly realises he's being stalked. A gun battle ensues and the lover, now a witness, is disposed of with seemingly little thought.
Quickly departing the scene of the crime he heads to Italy where his boss/handler arranges a place for him to live in a small mountain village where he decides enough is enough and is given one last, low key job to perform.
With a screenplay written by Roland Joffe (28 Days Later/Brighton Rock) and directed by Anton Corbijn (Control) The American isn't your average spy/assassin thriller/action movie. For a start the action sequences are few. Instead Corbijn plays on layers of ambiguity to create something far more deliciously subtle and tense that seems more about the central character than the unfolding plot.
The idylic pastoral setting it at once beguiling and threatening with Corbijn unexpectedly shattering the peace on occasion and making even the nosy neighbours seem slightly less than innocent. Jack is, of course, the biggest ambiguity. He is an emotionless, alert and experienced killer and yet someone who craves company and closeness. Friendship, particularly with women, is his weakness.