George Clooney plays an assassin who - after a botched mission in Sweden - vows the job will be his last and goes to ground in a small Italian town. To his surprise, he finds himself enjoying his enforced break, the friendship of a priest (Paolo Bonicello) and a dalliance with a pretty hooker (Violante Placido). Director Anton Corbjin's slow-burning thriller - based on a novel by Martin Booth - unspools at a stately pace with an atmosphere of dread dogging the reluctant assassin's every step. Subtle performances - particularly from Clooney - ensure the drama is bang on target.
George Clooney is a big hit with the women. The problem for comely Irina Björklund is that he's a big hit...in the back of her head. From point-blank range.
Clooney is jaded-gun-for-hire Jack, a veteran hitman who has been tracked down by assassins to the Swedish woodland cabin he's sharing with the unknowing Irina. Unfortunately, when he takes them out, he's obliged to terminate their relationship as well.
Heading to Italy, Jack - contorted with guilt by his slaying of an innocent - is ordered by his grim-faced paymaster Pavel to lay low in a small, hilltop town in the Abruzzo.
Posing as a magazine journalist, he finds himself succumbing to the natural warmth of the locals - the table of Paolo Bonacelli's convivial priest and the bed of Violante Placido's sweet-natured hooker.
However, he's still got work to do - craft a custom-built sniper's rifle for mysterious beauty Mathilde (Reuten), a meticulous client who orders Jack to make numerous refinements to the weapon.
Ravishingly shot by cinematographer Martin Ruhe, director Anton Corbjin's glacial adaptation of Martin Booth's novel A Very Private Gentleman unfolds subtly yet inexorably with Jack continually on tenterhooks as he expects his cover to be blown.
Clooney delivers possibly his most emotionally restrained performance yet, perfectly evoking the sense of dread that swirls around Jack as he gauges everyone as a potential assassin.
Not a thriller in the conventional sense, this is more art house than multiplex and devotes a great deal of time to Jack's skill as an armourer, methodically crafting his rifle from spare car parts.
Yet the suspense is built masterfully, climaxing in an explosion of violence out of which Jack may have the peace of mind he's always sought.