In the Canaries, Ian McShane plays a killer who has plenty of time on his hands in the American Star movie review.

Estimated read time 2 min read

Fans of sophisticated, niche television (such as Deadwood), cheesy yet captivating shows (like Lovejoy), and those who appreciate exceptional acting can all agree that Ian McShane is a remarkable performer and one of the best of his era. At 81 years old, he remains a charismatic and agile presence, with a commanding voice that has brought him consistent success. However, it is uncommon to see him in a leading role; typically, he is cast as the villain, the adversary, or the cunning mastermind behind the scenes.

American Star is therefore a bit of a treat because it gives McShane fans the maximum amount of McShane time, casting him as yet another heavy but one with something of a soul. (He takes a producer credit here, so maybe that’s what it took to put him in the centre of the story for a change.)

McShane portrays Wilson, a skilled assassin and Falklands war veteran, who travels to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands to carry out a hit. However, when he arrives at the target’s luxurious midcentury modern home in a desolate area of the island, the target is not present. Instead, he encounters a charming French woman (Nora Arnezeder) who comes to use the pool, and later he crosses paths with her again at her job – a bar where he discovers her name is Gloria.

Gloria brings Wilson to visit various attractions on the island, including the renowned wrecked ship, the American Star, which serves as a symbol of faded grandeur. She also introduces him to her mother, Fanny Ardant, who quickly senses potential danger in him.

While the plot may follow a familiar formula and be somewhat predictable, the highlight is watching McShane showcase his talent by portraying a sharp and lively mind beneath his calm and snake-like appearance. He has previously played roles as killers, but his chemistry with co-stars, including Arnezeder, is exceptional. Adam Nagaitis, who plays his jovial handler from the UK, appears midway through the story in a menacing manner, while Oscar Coleman (known for his role in Bridgerton) impresses as a street-smart 10-year-old who forms an unlikely bond with Wilson. Director Gonzalo López-Gallego skillfully sets the stage for the characters through both visual and narrative elements, and the score by Remate, combined with well-chosen soundtrack selections, adds a poignant touch to the film.


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