- Ian McShane, Thomas Kretschmann, Nora Arnezeder
- Written by
- Nacho Faerna
- Directed by
- Gonzalo López-Gallego
- Release Date
- January 26th, 2024
I think it is safe to say that there are no retirement homes for former assassins. The main reason would be that I doubt many, if any, get to live out their days somewhere peaceful after spending a life killing people. American Star is not a movie about retired assassins, but about an aging one on maybe his final job, it just had me thinking.
Wilson (Ian McShane) is an assassin who has been given a job to eliminate a wealthy German on the island of Fuerteventura. Wilson seems to have arrived a few days too early, but instead of letting it ruin his day, he instead decides a little holiday would be nice. So he checks into a hotel and starts to try and relax as he waits to do the job he came for. That time is spent not like you would expect a cold hard killer to spend his days. Instead, he comes off as that cool grandfather, as he befriends a little boy named Max (Oscar Coleman) at his hotel and a bartender named Gloria (Nora Armezeder), whom he meets at a bar that plays music “from his century.”
Wilson starts to spend time with Gloria, where they take in a crashed American ocean liner called The American Star, as well as eating lunch with Gloria’s mother. Wilson, though, is not the only killer on the island, as his nephew Ryan (Adam Nagaitis) is also there, who seems his main job is to remind Wilson why he is on the island in the first place. Wilson, though, is well aware of the reason he is there, and when the time comes, the job will be done.
Written by Nacho Faerna, American Star has all the makings of a good noir, with an isolated location, femme fatale, and a mystery man who happens to be a killer; the story, though, seems to be missing something. For me, that centers on the characters other than Wilson, who either leave you with questions or are not fleshed out enough to matter to the narrative. That starts with Ryan, played by Nagaitis, who you never really understand either through his motivations or his actions. Then you have Gloria, with her unusual attraction to Wilson, thus making her wanting to spend time with Wilson a mystery. As for Wilson himself, McShane was the perfect choice, as a man of few words, he still comes off as quite charming and it’s him that makes American Star watchable.
I didn’t really know what to expect with this film, other than I am a fan of McShane, so for me, that was enough to pull me in. American Star is ultimately a thriller, but you may forget that with its often laid-back feel to it. It is during those moments where it is just a delight to hang out with McShane, something you like doing even when it is time for him to do his job. Cinematographer José David Montero really captures the beauty of Fuerteventura as well as the overall vibe of the movie itself. For me, all of it works, and I enjoyed the subtle feel of American Star, if only to see the great Ian McShane do what he does best.