Its name aside, everything about "The American" feels very European, from the Italian mountainside setting to the heavily accented femmes fatales to the spare story.

Its name aside, everything about "The American" feels very European, from the Italian mountainside setting to the heavily accented femmes fatales to the spare story.

George Clooney is the titular American, Jack - an assassin who lives perpetually on edge, wondering if the footsteps behind him are nefarious and worrying that everyone in his life might double-cross him at any moment.

He spends his days holed up in empty apartments assembling special-order weapons for fellow assassins, but he's growing weary of the solitary lifestyle. After one last job - building an automatic rifle for a gorgeous sniper named Mathilde - he wants out of the game.

There's an aspect of redemption at play here, reinforced by Jack's newly forged friendship with a local priest. After all the lives he's taken, does Jack deserve happily ever after? That angle's hit even harder when Jack takes up with a (beautiful and kind) local prostitute.

Director Anton Corbijn, heretofore better known for his photography and music videos (he's also behind the Joy Division documentary "Control"), gets a little caught up in fancy cinematography and some heavy-handed symbolism.

Luckily, the tight pacing and lean running time don't leave much of an opportunity for this taut thriller to fall off the tracks.