"The American" hits theaters today, slotting into an early Wednesday release two days before the Labor Day weekend box office session heats up in earnest. Starring George Clooney as a disenchanted American assassin who seeks refuge overseas, "The American" certainly sounds like an entertaining, worthwhile movie experience — but it doesn't sound nearly as American as I'd expect based on the title.
Clearly, "American" is a very subjective word. What does it mean to be American? It's an ideal that has been represented in various different ways on the big screen in the past, from tobacco-chewing action heroes to brave cowboys and even hard-partying high school idiots. Frankly, any one of these American heroes could star in a movie titled "The American" and I wouldn't blink an eye.
After the jump, check out five of cinema's many American characters that would work wonderfully in any big screen movie titled "The American!"
If you're looking for six words to summarize what it meant to be an American action star in the 1980s, look no further than Jesse "The Body" Ventura's famous "Predator" quote: "I ain't got time to bleed." He certainly did have time to bleed at the hands of the Predator just a few scenes later, but the tobacco-chewing, mini-gun-wielding badass was bleeding red, white and blue all the way until the end.
Another classic action hero quote comes courtesy of Bruce Willis in the famous role of John McClane: "Yippie-kai-yai-yay, mother-f--ker." Just as Blain had no time to bleed, McClane has no time for pleasantries in the "Die Hard" franchise. Truly, McClane embodies the American working man with every step he takes (on glass covered floors in his bare feet during a holiday hostage situation) and every move he makes (as he thwarts an internet terrorism campaign on the Fourth of July).
Filmed over half a century ago, "High Noon" is one of the best examples of the never-say-die aspect of American living. Will Kane, a tired old marshal, is the only man in Hadleyville, New Mexico brave enough to stick around to battle the outlaw Frank Miller and his gang. Played to top notch perfection by Gary Cooper, Kane is the kind of hero we don't see enough of in American cinema these days — a man who never backs down, no matter the odds.
Representing a very different side of American herosim — and idiocy — is Steve Stifler, the moronic "American Pie" character that launched a career of similarly charismatic (and dim-witted) roles for the hilarious Seann William Scott. Stifler rules the party scene thanks to a plethora of awkward and filthy sexual exploits to his name, not to mention some specially flavored beers at his side at all times. Really, with the Stifmeister behind the wheel, "The American" would be a very different movie.
The Entire "Team America: World Police" Squad
But if we're being serious about movie characters that embody the notion of what it means to live in America, how could we ever discount the boys and girls who are coming again to save the mother-f***ing day now? Clearly an exaggerated parody of the way American forces are viewed worldwide, the Team America squad is ripe for a sequel and couldn't possibly get a more direct title than "The American."
Talk about some of the other most American characters in cinema in the comments section and on Twitter!