Seeing as The American is directed by famed U2 photographer Anton Corbijn, you would expect stark, arresting visuals. But it’s actually the sound that distinguishes the picture. I should say lack of sound, actually. This thriller, about a lone assassin (George Clooney) constructing an intricate gun while in between jobs in rural Italy, is cleverly, disconcertingly quiet . There is action here – more than one person wants this guy dead – but it takes place in a hushed atmosphere. While most movies try to bludgeon us into a state of suspense with crashing sound effects and roaring scores, The American uses unsettling silence to keep us on edge. At the middle of all this is Clooney, giving an interesting, one-man-show performance. His character is as much hunted as hunter, always skulking in doorways and peering out of windows. He’s a furtive, fretful presence – like a squirrel, albeit a dangerous, rabid one. Clooney’s unease is supposed to lend The American an emotional depth, but on that count the movie never quite rises above the mundane. In his interactions with women, in particular – the female assassin who has ordered the gun, a local prostitute he begins to favor – you can see that this guy’s job has rendered him incapable of intimacy, and that it’s a sacrifice he’s begun to regret. Many hit-man movies have been here before, of course. I just don’t recall any others that have done so with such a mesmerizing sense of stillness. Corbijn may have a gifted eye, but it’s his ear that makes The American an immersing experience.