‘American Star’ review – Ian McShane is a killer with time in the Canary Islands

AFans of highbrow cult television (Deadwood), raunchy yet addictive television (Lovejoy), and connoisseurs of great characterization will attest, Ian McShane is a fantastic actor and one of the best of his generation. Now 81, but a silver fox with the fluidity of a feline and a rumble that creates wealth, he is rarely out of work for long. But it’s rare to see him playing a starring role; he’s usually the heavyweight, villain, and cunning puppet master pulling the strings.

As such, “American Star” is a treat because it gives McShane fans the most time with McShane as another heavy-handed but soulful man. (He gets a nod from the producers here, so maybe that’s what it takes to put him at the center of the story for a change.)

McShane plays Wilson, a hitman and Falklands War veteran who comes to the Canary Islands of Fuerteventura to kill people. But the target, an elegant mid-century modern house in the middle of one of the island’s many moon-like deserted areas, isn’t home. Instead, an attractive young French woman (Nora Anezade) stops to use the pool, and Wilson later meets her at her place of work—in a bar, he learns that her name is Glo Lea.

Thinking he was considering buying a house on the island, Gloria took Wilson to see some of the attractions, such as a famous wreck called the Star of America, an apparent metaphor for faded glory, and introduced him to her mother (also played by Fanny Aldan). It was immediately apparent that he was in danger.

While the script is a bit formulaic and fairly predictable, the joy here is seeing McShane do what he does best, which is project an active mind beneath the calm surface of a snake-like face. We’ve already seen him play killers, but he has fantastic chemistry with his co-stars: in addition to Anazed, there’s also Adam Nagaitis, who makes a menacing appearance in England midway through the story , who plays his jolly agent, and Oscar Coleman (Bridgerton), a shrewd 10-year-old boy. At the same time, director Gonzalo López Gallego creates a strong framework around the characters, both visually and narratively, while Remate’s lovely score combines with well-chosen score cuts to create a limpid bitter.

American Star will be released in UK cinemas and digital platforms from February 23.

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