“Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental” we read at the end of The American, in what has to be the most unnecessary disclaimer of 2010; the prawn-faced, cat-food-gobbling aliens in District 9 were more recognizably human than any of the mannequins stumbling about the sunny malaise of Anton Corbijn’s eye-roller. A thriller that looks down on thrills except when it doesn’t, The American hearkens back to Graham Greene’s “serious” (and, usually, seriously phony) novels about morally threadbare heroes. George Clooney plays a jet-setting loner who manufactures high-grade firearms for professional assassins (what, you’ve never known anyone like that?), and who’s so uptight he can accept human contact only from a gorgeous but stupefyingly boring prostitute named…well, I forget what her name was. When Clooney’s not working on his latest assignment in what look like the deleted scenes from Robert Bresson’s worst movie, he moons around the Italian countryside like a poleaxed calf in search of the same brand of Catholic redemption that Greene used to dangle like a cheeseburger in front of his losers—a literary salvation which, of course, is utterly useless in the actual world. In what seems a direct nod to Greene, Clooney even takes on a sidekick priest, a baggy-eyed old man who peers sadly at him while delivering such Movie Priest sayings as “All the sheep in my flock are dear to me”, “You cannot deny the existence of hell. You live in it”, and other moldy sentiments that make you want to knock the guy’s teeth out for him. Honestly, I didn’t think I could hate any movie more than Shutter Island this year, but The American just walked off with the prize.